The Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16-12 to pass an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would repeal the Clinton era “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, which prevents openly gay people from serving in the military. The House also voted to pass the same measure 234-194, leaving the full Senate to vote on the measure later this summer. If passed, the repeal wouldn’t go into effect until a military review process, as well as approval by President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Not everyone’s happy about the repeal; Senator John McCain has been circulating a letter opposing the plan, and most “no” votes similarly fell along party lines. Both Robert Gates and Adm. Mullen, however, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February that they supported a repeal of the 1993 law, as long as they were given time to figure out how to best implement the change. Said Mullen:
“Mr. Chairman, speaking for myself and myself only, it is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do. No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.
“For me, personally, it comes down to integrity — theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.”
What the future holds for the controversial law is, for now, in the hands of the Senate.