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The Wright Perspective℠

Social Commentary from the C-Suite to Main Street℠

A Blog by Gary Wright II

Congress repeals Don't Ask, Don't Tell - A historic event

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

Today our country passed a historic milestone in the struggle for equal human rights. Congress has voted to repeal the military policy of discrimination known as Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT). The bill now goes to desk of President Obama for his official signature into law. The Senate vote today is not an immediate repeal of the policy. After the signature of the President, the military must certify that it is ready to implement the change. This will be led by the Defense Secretary Robert Gates and tje Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen. The policy change would then take effect by the Pentagon sixty days after the certification is completed.

There have been millions of people throughout the world who have expressed their support for equality. Gays and straights stood beside each other, and then we voiced a loud demand for equality. Not just equality between some, but equality for all of our citizens. This victory would not have possible without your expression of love, hard work, letters, and telephone calls. My friends and family have supported me every step of the way. I thank you and I love each and every one of you!

It took a 17 year fight to finally achieve this overdue military victory. My dear friends, this victory is bittersweet. My personal case is a clear example of how a policy of discrimination can be abused by those who are in power over us. In addition to my own discharge, there are over 14,000 other military members who were also unfairly discharged under this policy. It is our duty to restore the honor to these brave Americans who gave their service to our country. They did this at a time when our government told them they weren't wanted in the military. Currently, there are over 65,000 gays and lesbians serving honorably in the ranks of our military. We should thank them for their sacrifice.

There are several factors that complicate the implementation, but they are mostly logistical details that will be managed by the military leadership. This will not be an easy change, but our troops are professionals. They all have sworn a voluntary oath to defend our country, to follow their orders, and to uphold our Constitution. I know our service members will implement this historic change with no disruption to the capabilities of our military.

During his election campaign, President Obama pledged to repeal the DADT policy and he has now followed through on his promise. After two federal courts ruled that the DADT policy violates our Constitution, it became a race between the Judicial system and Congress to implement the change. With the Congress passing the repeal, the military can make all of the required changes in an organized manner. A recent in-depth study by CRWG provides nearly 300 pages of recommendations for the changeg. One federal court ruled against the DADT policy and ordered the military to immediately stop enforcement. After a special appeal from the Department of justice, a higher court suspended the court order until the legal case could be heard by a higher appeals court. Had the legal case moved forward, the military would have been required to enforce an abrupt change of the policy.

With a vote of 65 to 31, the DADT policy was repealed by the Senate. Eight Republican Senators chose to stand on the right side of history by supporting the vote for repeal: Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Richard Burr of North Carolina, John Ensign of Nevada, George Voinovich of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and both Maine Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.

65 Senators voted YES

31 Senators voted NO

Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Brown (R-MA)
Burr (R-NC)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Coons (D-DE)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Ensign (R-NV)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Hagan (D-NC)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kerry (D-MA)
Kirk (R-IL)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (D-PA)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (D-VA)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)

Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kyl (R-AZ)
LeMieux (R-FL)
Lugar (R-IN)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

Not Voting:
Bunning (R-KY)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hatch (R-UT)
Manchin (D-WV)

Special Thanks:

Thank you to President Obama, the Senate, and the United States House of Representatives for your leadership in ending an injustice.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the Department of Defense, and the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The CRGW made history when they conducted one of the greatest studies of our military and their families about moving forward to implementing the repeal.

Aubrey Sarvis and everyone at the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) who have always supported our veterans and demanding a full repeal. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Freedom To Serve, Lambda Legal, Servicemembers United, and dozens of other organizations who joined the fight for the change. Lady Gaga for leading a huge movement of our youth into became advocates and activists in support of the repeal. Lieutenant Dan Choi who was a strong advocate for repeal and another victim of the DADT policy. The City Councils throughout the country who had formally asked Congress for repeal.

Thank you for all of your love and support!

-- Gary Wright II

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