Last night, the House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee made a historic vote against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. By a count of 234-194-10 and 16-12 respectively, both legislative bodies added an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill that would set up a structure to end DADT.
In the House, the rhetoric was thick. Here, for your edification, is an only slightly biased Point/Counterpoint from the floor.
Point: By Representatives Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Mike Pence (R-IN), Todd Akin (R-MO), Trent Franks (R-AZ), and Buck McKeon (R-CA).
Counterpoint: By House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD).
To be clear: The House did not vote to repeal DADT tonight. Neither did the SASC. In both cases they voted to add an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill that creates a structure for possible, potential, if-a-bunch-of-other-conditions-are-met repeal of DADT.
Even if we get over all those hurdles and tick all those boxes, even if/when DADT is repealed, lesbian and gay soldiers will not be permitted to serve openly in the military. Rather, we’ll return to 1993’s status quo where military policy will not permit lesbians and gay men to serve openly.
There is hope–I think quite reasonable hope–that President Obama will take care of that as soon as Congress’s procedure is completed, but we need to stay on message. This fight won’t be won until LGB people are permitted to serve with honesty and integrity, just as their straight counterparts are required to do.
In other words, it’s not Woo-Hoo time. Cork the champagne, put away the noise makers, and tear down the “Mission Accomplished” banner. We have at least 8-12 months of actively fighting Republican attempts to keep discrimination alive (including a vote by the full Senate in June) before we can declare victory.