ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:
Senate Democrats, joined by a slew of advocates who have pushed for the repeal of the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy, today celebrated in the aftermath of this morning’s key procedural vote in favor of ending the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military.
“No member of the United States military should have to be living a lie,” said Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“'Don’t ask, don’t tell' will soon be relegated to the dustbin of history and a stain on our nation will be lifted forever,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign.
Former Air Force Maj. Mike Almy served the country for 13 years, including in Iraq, but was discharged due to the policy after his superiors found private emails that he had sent to a boyfriend. The Air Force even recommended a promotion for him at the same time as they were throwing him out.
“'Don’t ask, don’t tell' is the only law left in America today that mandates that someone be fired simply because of who they are. Not because they’ve committed a crime or they’ve done something wrong — just because of who they are,” Almy said. “Today we took a huge historic step towards ending that discrimination and treating gay and lesbian Americans no longer as second-class citizens, unworthy to defend our nation as they are, sacrificing their honor and integrity, but now pretty soon they will be able to serve equally and as confidently alongside their straight counterparts with honesty and integrity.
“There is nothing that I want more than to resume my career as an officer and a leader in the Air Force,” he said.
While Democrats were elated by this morning’s vote, some Republicans complained that the Senate should not have moved off debate on the START treaty to take up issues like "don’t ask, don’t tell" and the DREAM Act. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today ripped GOP senators for threatening to vote against the nuclear pact in the coming days due to today’s votes.
“They’re going to vote against this international treaty dealing with nuclear weapons because they had to vote on the DREAM Act and 'don’t ask, don’t tell?' Now that’s real statesmanship,” Reid said.
The Senate is set to take a final vote on the "don’t ask, don’t tell" repeal this afternoon at 3 p.m., after which the measure will be sent to President Obama’s desk.