Bil Browning

BREAKING: 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' Repeal Passes Senate

Filed By Bil Browning | December 18, 2010 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell, gays in the military, Senate, Senate debate

The United States Senate just voted 65-31 to repeal the discriminatory 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' policy. The House of Representatives has already passed the legislation. It now goes on to the President's desk for his signature into law.

Back in March I interviewed David Mixner to get his oral history of the origins of Don't Ask Don't Tell. When we did the interview, it looked like repeal was floundering so that's where the video ends. Little could I have predicted that the policy would rise from the dead and pass both houses of Congress as a standalone bill. That is historic.

Legislation was passed in Congress not in spite of including pro-gay portions; it was passed specifically in support of our civil rights. This item will be the tipping point that vastly accelerates our community. The sky is wide open. If today had a soundtrack it would be:

While many groups and individuals deserve an overwhelming amount of gratitude and praise today, let's not forget those who started fighting DADT from the moment it was floated as an idea. Check out the interview to learn how we got to today thanks to the courage of a few brave individuals no less honorable than Harvey Milk.

Statements from LGBT organizations and LGBT-friendly politicians are after the jump. I'll keep updating the post as the statements come in.

Michael Mitchell: National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director

"It's hard to find words to express how happy and relieved we are at National Stonewall Democrats that the despicable Don't Ask, Don't Tell will finally be repealed. For the last 17 years, we have watched many in our country pretend DADT was necessary and right, when in fact it was neither. Today's action by the US Senate begins to close a chapter of discrimination in the military based on sexual orientation that is hundreds of years long. Today, President Obama can say that he delivered on a big promise to our community and to the American people.

"As Americans, we can be proud that integrity and justice are the big winners today, not partisan politics.

"It goes without saying that we are very grateful for the hard work of Senate Democrats - not least of which Majority Leader Reid and Chairman Levin - who kept the path to repeal open when we thought it was lost, and who provided the vast majority of votes for repeal. It would be ungracious of us to not also thank the handful of Republican Senators who showed courage and bucked the obstructionist leadership of their party by voting to help restore integrity to our military.

"We also thank the tireless work of the patriots in the LGBT and allied communities who have been involved with the repeal effort, and we thank our own NSD members for their thousands upon thousands of letters, phone calls and in-person meetings that helped move the country toward repeal.

"Finally, we continue to be deeply appreciative of the brave women and men in uniform who currently serve and have served our country, some at incredible sacrifice, who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. We know the heavy burden that serving silently has been for them and we are humbled by their service under such difficult circumstances. We have been honored to have been able to fight for them in our own way - as they fight and have fought for our country."

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network

"Gay, lesbian and bisexual service members posted around the world are standing a little taller today, but they're still very much at risk because repeal is not final. I respectfully ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates to use his authority to suspend all 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' investigations during this interim period. Until the President signs the bill, until there is certification, and until the 60-day Congressional period is over, no one should be investigated or discharged under this discriminatory law. Even with this historic vote, service members must continue to serve in silence until repeal is final. Certification and the 60-day Congressional requirement must be wrapped up no later than the first quarter of 2011. The bottom line: for now, gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members must remain cautiously closeted," said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

"We owe a great deal of thanks to many Congressional leaders who got us here today -- Patrick Murphy, Susan Davis, Speaker Pelosi, and House Majority Leader Hoyer. In the Senate this would not have happened without Chairman Levin and Senators Lieberman, Mark Udall, Gillibrand, Collins and so many others. But let me also personally thank Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. This is the defining civil right initiative of this decade and today's bill passage would not have been possible without Harry Reid's determined leadership. And finally, without commitment and a clear plan from the White House for the Pentagon's Comprehensive Review Working Group, we would not stand here today. I have no doubt the February testimony of Sec. Gates and Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, would not have happened without the President," Sarvis said.

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese

America made history today. After 17 years of this failed and discriminatory law, gay and lesbian service members will soon be able to serve with the full honor and integrity the uniform demands. No longer will patriots be forced to lie in order to serve the country they love and are willing to die for.

This vote by the United States Senate will have extremely positive ripple effects well beyond 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' Our government has sent a powerful message that discrimination, on any level, should not be tolerated.

Freedom to Marry's Political Director Sean Eldridge:

"Freedom to Marry applauds today's vote to repeal military discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans defending our country. Military service, like marriage, has long been considered a defining element of citizenship and full participation in society. And military discrimination, like exclusion from marriage, is one of the cruelest inequalities inflicted on gay Americans by their own government.

"Our elected representatives have begun catching up with the American people, who oppose discrimination of any kind against gay and lesbian Americans. In love and war, the government should honor the commitment of gay Americans. We urge the President and Congress to turn their attention to repealing federal marriage discrimination inflicted by the so-called 'Defense of Marriage Act'."

Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

"Today's victory is a tremendous one for a nation that once denied women and African Americans the opportunity to serve. An integrated military, inclusive of gay and lesbian service members, is a moral imperative for our nation. We in the civil and human rights community believed that in 1948 when this country first allowed women and African Americans to serve in the military and we also believe that today.

'Don't ask, don't tell' turned its back on the principle that people who are willing and able to do a job should be given a fair opportunity to do so. This is not only one of the most important principles behind the struggle to guarantee the civil and human rights of all people - it is also a matter of sound military strategy and common sense.

Congressman Al Green summed up this injustice perfectly on the House Floor, stating 'I will not ask people who are willing to die for my country to live a lie for my country.' The entire civil and human rights community echoes this sentiment as we continue to strive for an America that's as good as its ideals in the coming Congress."

GetEqual

Today, GetEQUAL - a national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization applauded congressional action on the repeal of the discriminatory law known as Don't Ask Don't Tell. After a cloture vote held this morning and a final vote moments ago, the United States Senate with bi-partisan support declared their clear support towards ending the discrimination of all LGBT service men and women and took another step towards creating equality and justice for all LGBT Americans. While a large step forward was taken by ending the discriminatory law today, there remain many obstacles in the way of full equality for LGBT service men and women. The current legislation that passed the Senate only moments ago still leaves many issues open, ranging from the service of Transgender Men and Women and the implementation of the repeal.

GetEqual Co-Founder Robin McGhee recently released this statement in response to the senate action today. "We are thrilled today that the Senate has taken one more step toward full legal equality for all Americans. Today's vote is one more step forward in not only retiring this discriminatory policy, but also in the larger march toward equality and justice for LGBT Americans. While today's vote doesn't yet finalize repeal, and while the legislation is far from perfect -- leaving our transgender sisters and brothers in the grip of discrimination -- we are happy to have finally moved past this hurdle. Though we have many other hurdles ahead of us to truly and fully end military discrimination for the entire LGBT community, we look forward to the fight ahead to repeal this policy once and for all."

National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey

"Today's vote is the critical strike against 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and toward creating a path that could end in lesbian, gay and bisexual people being able to serve openly, honestly, and to great benefit of our country. We celebrate this important victory and thank all the senators who supported fairness today. We are on the brink of making history. An end to 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' cannot happen soon enough. This arcane and costly policy has destroyed thousands of careers, wasted much-needed dollars, and failed to enhance our nation's security. We are now poised to end this travesty once and for all, as the Senate today joined with the three-quarters of Americans who already believe 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' must go. People from every background, every faith, every community across the country know that qualified, patriotic Americans willing to risk their lives by serving in the military should be able to do so, free of discrimination. When full repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is implemented, our nation will honor the principles of fairness and justice that it holds so dearly. We urge President Obama to act swiftly to sign this historic bill."

MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini, Esq.

"Today's vote by the U.S. Senate to repeal 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' will end 13 years of ugly, government-sponsored discrimination, and is an historic victory for LGBT equality. MassEquality thanks President Obama for delivering on his campaign promise to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and applauds those senators who voted for repeal, particularly those who, like Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, crossed party lines to take an affirmative vote in favor of LGBT equality.

"But the true courage behind today's vote has been that of the lesbian, gay, and bisexual servicemembers and their families who have endured the harms of this discriminatory law while advancing freedom for others, and the countless veterans and citizens who made visit after visit, placed call after call, and wrote letter after letter until Congress finally joined the supermajority of Americans, Massachusetts citizens, and servicemembers who support the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

"Since March, MassEquality has worked hard to convince Sen. Brown to vote to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell. We delivered 2,262 postcards and 110 handwritten letters to Sen. Brown urging him to vote for repeal; we made nearly 10,000 calls to families of veterans and other MassEquality members urging them to call Sen. Brown to ask him to support repeal; we organized meetings for 27 veterans opposed to 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' with Sen. Brown's constituent services director in Boston; and we partnered with the Human Rights Campaign last May to sponsor a panel discussion at Faneuil Hall among five veterans in support of repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'

"We are pleased to have continued our history of delivering wins few thought possible with Sen. Brown's key vote today in favor of repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' Since the law's implementation in 1993, it has weakened our national security with the unnecessary loss of critically skilled personnel, and done incalculable harm to the more than 14,000 servicemembers, and their families, discharged under the discriminatory law."

OutServe's JD Smith

"OutServe looks forward to the day that repeal of this law is signed by our Commander in Chief and the certification process is complete so we can all begin to serve openly and honestly. Certification must take place as soon as possible as gay and lesbian service members will be in limbo over the next few months. As the troops will interpret today's actions as an end in the policy, only a delay in certification will increase the lack of clarity among the ranks. "

Marriage Equality USA

This afternoon the U.S. Senate, with a vote of 65-31, joined the House in repealing DADT. President Obama has promised to sign and implement this historic and long overdue policy change, allowing LGB soldiers to stop having to lie about their sexual orientatiuon in order to stay in the military..

"Ding dong, don't ask, don't tell is dead! No more witch hunts, no more serving in fear, finally the beginning of the end of LGBT legal discrimination draws near," said Molly McKay, Marriage Equality USA Media Director. "This is a day to celebrate a long overdue victory - but it is also important to recognize that the journey to equality is just beginning. We appreciate the extra efforts of Congressional members to extend this simple gesture of kindness and dignity to the LGBT service members and their families just in time for Christmas and we are hopeful that they will continue the momentum to eliminate marriage discrimination so that their families can enjoy the same benefits and protections as all other military families."

Marriage Equality USA Military/Veteran's Community Liaison Tyson Redhouse states: "Today, our leadership stood on the right side of history and 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is on its way out after 17 years. Since the policy's enactment our nation has witnessed the discharges of over 14,000 men and women who took the Oath to stand up and serve their country. We've seen the military let thousands of specially-skilled servicemembers go, and we've seen many more endure the incredible stress of serving in silence. Today, we are seeing a great measure of hope given to those who have been impacted by this unjust and unnecessary policy. Don't Ask, Don't Tell cost this nation more than it should, and we are finally on the verge of seeing that ended. We now proceed on the path to repeal, a process which will take us into the New Year, a year that promises the systematic dissolution of the DADT policy. While this process moves forward, lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) service members must hold tight. Today's vote is an active start. As we watch the repeal unfold we can rest assured that the passage of each day will allow those silent serving to stand a little taller and breathe a little easier. The voice of the people has been heard! We've waited for this day for so long and we now take time to celebrate a major step toward equality!"

Redhouse continued emotionally, "Today's events bring up a lot of emotions for me, personally. I served under DADT for eight years as an intelligence analyst in the U.S. Air Force and I understand the pressure of serving in silence. I remember having to keep layer upon layer of secrecy from almost everyone I knew. There were times I questioned myself because DADT essentially forced me to go against my core value of integrity; I sometimes wondered if I really belonged in the military. We servicemembers and veterans have endured so much for so long. To my fellow gay soldiers currently serving, and to their families, I want to say, 'Hang in there - the fight is almost done - keep your heads up. Hope is coming and I will be there to stand with you when this policy is gone.' "

"There are over 400 legal provisions related to marital status that grant benefits to active servicemembers' and veterans' spouses; including medical care, survivor and insurance benefits, notification and support services for families, educational and housing benefits, pensions and compensation for service-connected disabilities and deaths," said Davina Kotulski, author of Love Warriors: The Rise of the Marriage Equality Movement and Why It Will Prevail (October 2010). "The repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a significant milestone for gay soldiers and we are hopeful that Congress will act soon to eliminate the Federal DOMA and provide equal dignity and support to the families who have silently supported our country at the expense of their own families, who were unable to marry or to register as domestic partners because it violated Don't Ask, Don't Tell and would have expelled them from the military. I hope gay soldiers will come home and finally enjoy being able to declare and exercise the freedom to marry the ones they love."

Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA)

"Today, we close the books on the discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy that hurt our national security and ran counter to our American values. When I served in Baghdad with the 82nd Airborne Division, my team and I didn't care who someone was writing to back home. We cared if everyone could fire their assault rifle, kick down a door, and do their job so we could all come home alive.

Gay men and women are serving in our military. I served alongside them in Baghdad, and they continue fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to protect our families at home. With today's vote, we finally stop telling them that they have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love."

GLAAD

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the nation's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, joined the LGBT community and its allies today in celebrating the congressional repeal of the military's discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law.

After today's 65-31 Senate vote to repeal of the 17-year-old ban, the legislation moves to President Obama, who has said that he will sign the repeal into law.

"To deny brave men and women the ability to serve their country openly and honestly is to reject the fundamental American principles of fairness and equality for all," said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. "Today's vote, a reflection of the overwhelming majority of Americans who support the repeal, moves us one step closer to ending a ban which undermines our national security and has resulted in the loss of critical and skilled service members."

"As I heard the final vote count, relief swept over me and I felt like my eight years of service and sacrifice had finally been validated," said Sergeant Anthony Bustos. "Today's vote will not only strengthen our national security, it will also strengthen our nation's integrity."

Sergeant Anthony Bustos, a 25 year old native Texan, served eight years in the United States Army National Guard and completed two tours in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sergeant Bustos was officially discharged on December 9, 2010 under the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. Sergeant Bustos worked with GLAAD prior to coming out on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer earlier this year

Faith In America

Faith in America applauds all the many organizations and individuals who have worked to bring about today's historic repeal of the U.S. military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy.

"Today's vote in the U.S. Senate is a monumental achievement in the annals of the LGBT civil rights movements," said Faith in America Founder Mitchell Gold. "First, it means our gay service men and women can live their lives with the same human dignity as others. An incredible burden of inequality has been lifted from these men and women.

"Second, this effort signals the end of religion-based bigotry within one of largest and most revered institutions in our society. That is historic as well."

"Most importantly, today's vote sends a message to our gay youth that one of the largest institutions in our society considers them fully deserving of human dignity and equality. That is a powerful message, and one that all youth and their families need to hear."

Garden State Equality

Throughout the rest of our lifetimes, LGBT people across America, as well as our families and friends, will remember where we were today when we watched the U.S. Senate repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. We will remember today's repeal in the same way millions will always remember the great civil rights landmarks of the 1950s and 1960s - as an enduring milestone that reflects the promise of our nation and the very best of whom each of us in America can be.

Today's repeal is the strongest signal yet that our government will no longer tolerate discrimination in the official institutions of society. We are confident that will someday soon include the institution of marriage.

We thank you, the 82,000 members of Garden State Equality, who worked your hearts out to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, just like you work so tirelessly on every single other thing you do for our movement. You are incredible.

We thank our national organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Servicemembers United, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and so many others, for never giving up on the dream. We thank our servicewomen and men who have served our nation valiantly under the duress of living a lie imposed on them by our government. And we thank President Obama and the 111th U.S. Congress for this legacy to our nation forever.

Today, America is one giant step closer to liberty and justice for all.

Log Cabin Republicans

The United States Senate in a vote of 65 to 31 passed legislation, including 8 Republicans, which upon certification by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense, and the President, will end the military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy.

"This is an historic day, not just for gay and lesbian servicemembers, but for all Americans," said Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper and an out officer in the United States Army Reserve. "Today the Senate voted, with strong Republican support, to finally end a policy which has burdened our armed services for far too long, depriving our nation of the talent, training and hardwon battle experience of thousands of patriotic Americans. Soon, the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who sacrifice so much to defend our freedom will be able t o enjoy those same freedoms equally, without regard to sexual orientation. Log Cabin Republicans is proud to have played a role in this victory, and we thank our allies in Congress, without whom repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' would not have been possible."

"This is an historic moment. Like our closest allies, the United States' Armed Forces should welcome the service of any qualified individual who is willing and capable of serving our country," said Senator Susan Collins. "And, I agree with Defense Secretary Gates that it is critical that the issue is decided by Congress, not the courts."

"I have been in the military for 31 years and counting, and have served as a subordinate and as an officer," said Senator Scott Brown. "As a legislator, I have spent a significant amount of time on military issues. During my time of service, I have visited our injured troops at Walter Reed and have attended funerals of our fallen heroes. When a soldier answers the call to serve, and risks life or limb, it has never mattered to me whether they are gay or straight. My only concern has been whether their service and sacrifice is with pride and honor."

"I am pleased that the Senate voted today to end debate on the President's proposal to repeal the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy and allow gay and lesbian service members to serve openly in the military. I intend to vote yes on repeal when that final vote comes to the Senate floor," said Senator Lisa Murkowski in advance of the Senate vote. "Our military leaders have made a compelling case that they can successfully implement Don't Ask, Don't Tell. It is infinitely preferable for Congress to repeal the law, and allow the service chiefs to develop and execute a new policy, than to invite a court-ordered reversal of the law with no allowance for a military-directed implementation. I've heard from Alaskans across the state who believe it's time to end this discriminatory policy, and I agree with them."

"I very carefully read the Joint Chiefs of Staff report and met at length with Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gary Roughead," said Senator Mark Kirk. "Following their exhaustive and considered military judgment, I support the Joint Chief's recommendation to implement the repeal of the current policy once the battle effectiveness of the forces is certified and proper preparations are complete. The legislation before us provides our military leaders with the time they requested to change the policy. Without this legislation, Admiral Roughead warned that courts, like California's federal courts, would issue further confusing stop and start orders to our military, causing chaos in our military recruitment and retention programs. In the end, the Constitution charges the Congress with setting military policy and the Executive branch with implementing it. The legislation containing the recommendations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will remove the various orders of conflicting and uncertain court litigation from our military, allowing uniformed leaders to once again effectively manage our national defense. As a 21-year Navy Reserve officer, I believe it is important for military leaders, not federal judges, to run our armed forces."

"After careful analysis of the comprehensive report compiled by the Department of Defense and thorough consideration of the testimony provided by the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the service chiefs, I support repeal of the 'don't ask, don't tell' law," Senator Olympia Snowe said in a statement on December 15th.

Republican senators supporting repeal include:

  • Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA)
  • Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)
  • Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
  • Sen. John Ensign (R-NV)
  • Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
  • Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
  • Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH)

Log Cabin Republicans have maintained a three-front strategy against 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' lobbying for repeal in Congress, consulting with the Department of Defense, and filing suit in federal court. The case went to trial in July of 2010, and Judge Virginia Phillips ruled on September 9, 2010 that the policy violated the First and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution.

Admiral Mike Mullen: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

"I am pleased to see the Congress vote to repeal the law governing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' Handling this through legislation preserves the military's prerogative to implement change in a responsible, deliberate manner.

"More critically, it is the right thing to do. No longer will able men and women who want to serve and sacrifice for their country have to sacrifice their integrity to do so. We will be a better military as a result.

"I look forward to working with Secretary Gates and the Service chiefs as we set about the task of preparing and certifying the joint force to implement the new law. And I am committed to making sure that process is well-led, maintains our combat readiness and upholds our high standards."

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

"I welcome today's vote by the Senate clearing the way for a legislative repeal of the 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' law.

"Once this legislation is signed into law by the President, the Department of Defense will immediately proceed with the planning necessary to carry out this change carefully and methodically, but purposefully. This effort will be led by Dr. Clifford Stanley, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and himself a retired Marine Corps major general and infantry officer.

"The legislation provides that repeal will take effect once the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that implementation of the new policies and regulations written by the Department is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces. As I have stated before, I will approach this process deliberately and will make such certification only after careful consultation with the military service chiefs and our combatant commanders and when I am satisfied that those conditions have been met for all the Services, commands and units.

"It is therefore important that our men and women in uniform understand that while today's historic vote means that this policy will change, the implementation and certification process will take an additional period of time. In the meantime, the current law and policy will remain in effect.

"Successful implementation will depend upon strong leadership, a clear message and proactive education throughout the force. With a continued and sustained commitment to core values of leadership, professionalism and respect for all, I am convinced that the U.S. military can successfully accommodate and implement this change, as it has others in history."

American Foundation for Equal Rights President Chad Griffin

"Today's vote to end the egregious and discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell law is a major victory for the millions of patriotic gay and lesbian Americans who have and who continue to serve their country honorably. This historic vote is also a victory for the principles on which our nation was founded: all Americans are equal under the law and no one should be subject to discrimination.

"Today it further evidence that the fight for equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans, which has historically been seen as a partisan issue is increasingly becoming bipartisan. Just as conservative Ted Olson and liberal David Boies came together in the fight for marriage equality, we are glad to see that the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell had strong bipartisan support, and that Republican Senators Brown, Burr, Ensign, Kirk, Voinovich, Collins, Murkowski and Snowe and Independent Senator Joe Lieberman worked alongside their Democratic colleagues to end this unfair policy and to take a stand for human rights.

"Finally, we want to congratulate and thank the Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund, Human Rights Campaign, Center for American Progress, Lt. Dan Choi and the many others who fought long and hard to close this cruel chapter of government-sanctioned discrimination. The American Foundation for Equal Rights will continue its work to ensure all Americans are treated equally and share the same fundamental constitutional rights."

Statement from Press Secretary Robert Gibbs

"As the President has long said, ending 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the military, will strengthen our national security while upholding the basic equality on which this nation was founded. The President looks forward to signing the bill into law."

Transgender American Veterans Association

We are proud of our democracy that Congress passed this monumental repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Even though transgender people are still going to be separated from military service, Transgender American Veterans Association salutes this passage. We who have served our nation proudly now anticipate our own progress to freedom and equality.

Monica Helms, President of TAVA said, "For 17 years the US has made their gay lesbian and bisexual service members second class citizens and caused them to have to lie about who they are and who they love. No longer will that be the case. We now turn our attention to allowing transgender people to serve openly."

"It should be recognized that DADT has never included directives concerning Transgender people serving in the military." Angela Brightfeather, TAVA's Vice President stated, "Therefore, there was no call from Transgender Americans to equally serve in the military of their country, without persecution and discrimination. However, Transgender people who have and still do serve under the same pre-DADT conditions, still find it necessary to lie and hide who they are, contrary to the best traditions of the military. We now press our GLB brothers and sisters to finish the job and help provide the means for Transgender people to be able to serve their country openly and equally as do all Americans."

Many of America's allied nations have long since allowed open transgender service along with the service of those with alternate sexual orientation. The next frontier is for the United States is to progress to full and complete inclusion of the right to serve our nation. It is TAVA's expectation that now that DADT has been repealed that all those involved in achieving the repeal will now turn their attention to help transgender Americans also be able serve openly.


Recent Entries Filed under Politics:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.


Dear Stonewall Democrats:

"Finally, we continue to be deeply appreciative of the brave women and men in uniform who currently serve and have served our country, some at incredible sacrifice, who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. We know the heavy burden that serving silently has been for them and we are humbled by their service under such difficult circumstances. We have been honored to have been able to fight for them in our own way - as they fight and have fought for our country."

You didn't fight for trans inclusion in this DADT repeal. Trans people are still discharged for transitioning, on 'medical grounds' as though treating a condition is what makes one unfit for duty.

Service Members' Legal Defense Network, Joe Solmonese, Sean Eldridge, Rea Carey, JD Smith, and Marriage Equality USA: You mean cis gays and lesbians, not gays and lesbians. Cis gays and lesbians get these rights, trans gays and lesbians will still be discharged, regardless of what kind of queer their commanding officer deems them to be.

Also, Mr. Solmonese?

"No longer will patriots be forced to lie in order to serve the country they love and are willing to die for."

Well, unless you're trans.

Kara Suffredini, Esquire:

I don't understand how trans folk benefit from this repeal, as we are, if we serve in the US military, still required, as condition of employment, to continue to live a lie... actually, the focus on DADT over ENDA means that for an awful lot of trans people, it remains a condition of employment to continue to live a lie.

You know how HRC fell all over itself promising that once a trans-exclusive ENDA was passed the focus would immediately shift to trans-inclusion?

We're waiting.

Thanks for nothing, actually.

The repeal of DADT might seem like an important civil rights victory, but it all it really means is that the "Gay, Incorporated" political lobby has once again succeeded in placing its interests above the actual needs of the community. They have killed the crucial civil-rights bill of our time -- fully inclusive ENDA -- in favor of a trite, petty issue of purely peripheral importance.

Coming in the wake of the 2004 ENDA debacle, it is once again made clear that "Gay, Incorporated" is perfectly willing to throw gays under the bus just to avoid supporting trans rights. They are THAT toweringly transphobic -- they knew they couldn't get away with a non-inclusive ENDA again, so they killed ENDA for the useless red herring of DADT repeal.

But hey, go on with your damn cocktail parties.

Bitter? So were the blacks who could serve in the integrated military long before the civil rights act of 1964 was finally passed.

"A trite, petty issue of purely peripheral importance"?

Excuse me, but my fiancee's job security--and therefore our joint livelihood--not to mention her mental stability (since she literally would not be able to cope with being discharged from the military early) is not a "trite, petty issue of purely peripheral importance." This law affected very real people, and its repeal will affect very real people. I'll thank you to not marginalize me and people like me because you're bitter that the movement hasn't had more trans inclusion.

Does the movement need more trans inclusion? FUCK YEAH. Do we have every right to be angry with Gay, Inc. for failing us with trans inclusion? FUCK YEAH. Is the repeal of DADT still a civil rights victory? FUCK YEAH. Would trans-inclusive ENDA and a greater focus in the community on dealing with things like transphobia and LGBT homelessness be bigger civil rights victories? FUCK YEAH.

In short: I know you're bitter, and you have every right to be, but FUCK YOU for trying to make the rest of us feel bad because we got our rights before you did.

So at what point are we allowed to complain, then? There's a historical pattern that as soon as the gay rights battles are won, cisgays stop giving a fuck about the trans people who sacrificed for them to have full civil rights.

We still don't have gender identity anti-discrimination in Wisconsin 28 years after the passing of their sexual orientation only anti-discrimination law.

Six years after Mass has same-sex marriage, transgender rights still languish and die in the legislature year after year.

Yes, a lot of trans people are UTTERLY cynical about the intentions of the cis-LGB communities toward us. If you want to change that cynicism, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

The cis-LGBs already betrayed trans people back in 1994 by when they accepted DADT. Remember, at that time DADT was a step forward for gay and lesbian servicemembers; it didn't allow them to serve openly ("Don't Tell"), but it did shielded them from witch hunts ("Don't Ask"). Trans servicemembers were left holding the bag.

Since then, there has been zero interest by Gay, Incorporated in fighting to extend even the minimal protection of DADT to include trans servicemembers. It's all about gays, gays, gays -- "We already got bread for ourselves, now give us cake!"


Did you miss the parts of my post where I said your cynicism and complaints were justified? Complaining is legitimate; saying that the people this law affected aren't important (by saying that repealing the discriminatory law is unimportant) is just as bad as saying trans people aren't important. Living under DADT was a reality of my and my fiancee's life, and we have a right to be happy now that it's gone.

It may not be what you want to hear, but yes, repealing DADT is trite and petty. It's the equivalent of a rich, privileged jerk from Beverly Hills calling 911 and taking up an ambulance for a routine medical checkup because it's his driver's day off, thereby taking that ambulance away from people who need it for REAL emergencies.

You may think it's SO unfair that gays and lesbians can't openly serve in the military, but at the end of the day, the military is a CAREER CHOICE and being deprived of that option is a mere inconvenience. Compared to the living hell the lives of trans people is without ENDA protection, it isn't even on the radar.

I don't think the military is a career choice for the enlisted people. Most of the time enlisted people who don't come from long military family histories enlist because they have little to no other job options, either because they come from poor inner city areas, have no other stable economic options, or don't have the education to get another comparable paying career. Haven't you seen all the outrage in the comments about "now queer kids are going to be coerced into military service just like minorities and economically exploited inner city youth"?

I'm not saying trans people don't have it harder than queer people under DADT. But for some people the military is basically their only viable option of economic stability. That's a reality, not my spin trying to justify it. Are you saying queer people with no other economic options should have had to lose their jobs, not to mention go through the strain of being discharged (which usually gives people a host of depressive issues, since the military is really good at brainwashing people into thinking their life is over without the military), because trans people have to go through similar and worse experiences?

You're accusing me of getting my bread and wanting cake, but it seems like you're saying "Trans people aren't happy/don't have opportunities, so NO ONE SHOULD."

I was giving you the benefit of the doubt before, but now you've made it explicitly clear that you believe that the economic comfort of gays and lesbians is more important than the lives of trans people. It's more important to you that gays and lesbians have extra opportunities to lead a privileged middle-class lifestyle than for trans people to live at all. Furthermore, you are so wrapped up in your own selfish concerns that you refuse to see just how reprehensible that is.

With people like you in the gay community, no wonder Gay, Incorporated is so successful. You "honestly" believe that paying lip service to trans inclusion excuses your standing back and letting Uncle Tom Solomonese do your dirty work for you.

I fail to see how "economic livelihood" equals "economic comfort," and since when did I say DADT was more important than fighting for trans protections? Didn't I say multiple times that trans people have it worse and that their needs are more pressing? The only thing I take issue with is you belittling and berating me for being effected by "Gay, Inc."'s political gaming and being happy about having rights I was denied before.

How about this, let's you and I start a new organization to push for trans-inclusive ENDA, since everybody else has failed to do it? You probably won't want to because I'm cisgender and therefore part of the problem (yes, I acknowledge my privilege as a cisgender individual and therefore, by enjoying this privilege, I am complicit in the existence of this privilege of cis people over trans people), but I'm being sincere here. My e-mail is meredithgasco@gmail.com (incidentally it also contains my full name). We'll get an infrastructure going--and in the age of the internet it could be national relatively quickly. Drop me a line and we'll discuss tactics. I looked at your website, and it doesn't appear that you have an organization going already or are part of one you could recommend. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Instead of yelling at me, why not educate me? Clearly you and I are disagreeing on this issue, and since you're such a passionate advocate for the rights of trans people I'm assuming you could teach me a lot more than my other trans friends have been able to.
Educate me and then we'll do something about it. Why not?

If DADT repeal had won on its own merits, you might -- might -- have had a legitimate point. Given that DADT repeal only succeeded by taking advantage of the cowardice of Obama and his Democrats and of the outright transphobia infesting "Gay, Incorporated", the moral high ground you're attempting to claim is a poor illusion.

You and yours screwed us over to get what YOU selfishly wanted for YOURSELF, and then you have the gall to whine that we shouldn't be upset? Wake up and smell the blood on your hands, Lady Macbeth.

"Me and mine?" Why do you assume that I'm part of "Gay, Inc." because their political gaming happened to coincide with a desire my fiancee and I have to exercise our rights?

I have never donated to any "Gay, Inc." organization. I firmly believe that protecting transgender people and eliminating transphobia within our community and the country at large is more important than letting the queers who want to become part of the military-industrial complex. But at the same time, I'm happy that the queers who want to can now openly become part of the military-industrial complex, if that's their choice, or their only means of job security/financial stability, etc. I agree with you that there are more "worthy" concerns than open military service; I agree that trans people get screwed over and that's not right; I don't agree that civil rights victories that affect me should make me feel guilty or that I'm complicit in transphobia because I was affected by "Gay, Inc."'s political game of screwing over trans folk.

Um...wow. Bitter much?

In February, at the Human Rights Campaign's Carolinas fundraising gala, Joe Solmonese promised donors, "This year we are going to bring down the discriminatory policy known as DADT."

The deal, that was cut in February (by HRC and others), enabled some Republicans to support repeal based on the "military study," and it has worked. What's left is for the President and Congress to "certify." The repeal will only take effect 60 days after the last of conditions a) and b) are fulfilled:

a) The Secretary of Defense receives the Comprehensive Review he requested on March 2, 2010 concerning implementing a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

b) Congress receives written certification from the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff stating that:

1) The President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered the recommendations contained in the report and the report’s proposed plan of action.

2) The Department of Defense has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to implement the repeal.

3) Implementing all necessary modifications required to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” are consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.

I think HRC and the organizations that brokered the deal in February deserve some credit for understanding they needed something real to convince enough Republicans to support Repeal. To that end Gates and Mullen (one supposes at the direction of Obama) deserve a lot of credit for crafting an effective study of DADT. It worked.

Let's hope the new Republican Congress doesn't stall the process to "certify" this potential repeal of DADT. There is already talk that the House will hold "hearings" in January and they will try to make funding "implementation" an issue.

One down 2 to go and think of this as a backdoor after all military folks has personal lives to and will want there partners to get the same benefits as normal married couple will have.

Now what’s to fund new training manuals saying yes its ok to be gay and lesbian now. Housing is not an issue that was very much just a fear factor that failed. Any one single with rank has there own room on base now when in the field its very much focus on the job and live to get the hell home. The trick will be some one with a live in partner how and when to accept them as a “married” couple and do they get base housing or will they be forced off base.

AndrewW- What about the many many times you swore we would never get 60 votes in the Senate? We got 65 so sorry to rain on your parade but you were wrong! So I am not about to listen to you now. Yes, there are things that have to happen but do you really think Obama will let this not take effect now? Please...not if wants even a chance to be elected in 2012!

We still do NOT have 60 votes that are committed to LGBT-equality. Read my comment above to understand what just happened. Republicans in safe areas (voting for DADT repeal was not offensive to their constituents) joined our 56 LGBT-supportive votes in the US Senate. That's all that happened. They didn't repeal DADT.

Plus, we'll have to see what happens next - DADT isn't gone. We get a new Congress in a few weeks.

Oh yes, Andrew wasn't "wrong" with his constant "we don't have 60 votes!" mantra... Everyone else just misunderstood him. It's our fault really. How could we doubt our wise copy-and-paste guru troll?

You missed a press release:

Transgender American Veterans Association Salutes the Repeal Vote of DADT

Contact: Monica Helms: president@tavausa.org
Denny Meyer: media@tavausa.org
(718) 849-5665

We are proud of our democracy that Congress passed this monumental repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Even though transgender people are still going to be separated from military service, Transgender American Veterans Association salutes this passage. We who have served our nation proudly now anticipate our own progress to freedom and equality.

Monica Helms, President of TAVA said, “For 17 years the US has made their gay lesbian and bisexual service members second class citizens and caused them to have to lie about who they are and who they love. No longer will that be the case. We now turn our attention to allowing transgender people to serve openly.”

“It should be recognized that DADT has never included directives concerning Transgender people serving in the military.” Angela Brightfeather, TAVA’s Vice President stated, “Therefore, there was no call from Transgender Americans to equally serve in the military of their country, without persecution and discrimination. However, Transgender people who have and still do serve under the same pre-DADT conditions, still find it necessary to lie and hide who they are, contrary to the best traditions of the military. We now press our GLB brothers and sisters to finish the job and help provide the means for Transgender people to be able to serve their country openly and equally as do all Americans.”

Many of America’s allied nations have long since allowed open transgender service along with the service of those with alternate sexual orientation. The next frontier is for the United States is to progress to full and complete inclusion of the right to serve our nation. It is TAVA’s expectation that now that DADT has been repealed that all those involved in achieving the repeal will now turn their attention to help transgender Americans also be able serve openly.

Sorry Monica. You didn't send it till 11:19pm and then left this comment bemoaning it wasn't here 9 minutes later. The post went up at 3pm when the vote happened and as all the releases came in. By 5pm I'd called it a day and left the computer.

It's added now.

We had it typed up and ready to go, but I missed all the action because I was in the basement working on my hobby. By the time I got back to my computer, the news had spread like wildfire. I sent it out, but too late for others besides you. Thank you for adding it.

Bottom line...who cares where they are from Andrew. We got over 60 votes and you said we never would. You were wrong and should admit it.

And I do not need to read anything from you to know what happened.

Very good. I have a son who is thinking about joining and this was an issue for us.

How wonderful! I challenge EVERY "NORMAL" man or woman serving our Constitution to immediately file formal charges every time some new "openly serving" sodomite makes a move on you. NO MATTER how slight the infraction, it's imperative to do so ASAP, for there is still plenty of time to impeach Obama and fire every legislator who is correctly deemed responsible when this causes all the hatred, chaos and sexual perversion interruptions and starts causing good men and women to be killed.
Celebrate now you perverts! You're days of perverted pride are numbered! This nation will finally start seeing what being "open" is all about and your own behaviors will be your own demise!

Would you make the same challenge for women in the military who are sexually harassed or assaulted by straight men?