Saturday marked a historic day in America, when Congress finally passed legislation ending the military’s 17-year ban on openly gay troops. According to the Star Tribune, more than 13,500 men and women who wanted to serve their country have been dismissed under the 1993 law. For the first time in almost twenty years, gay men and women won’t have to hide who they are in order to serve their country.
The Democratic-controlled House passed the bill 250-175, but there were concerns that the Senate wouldn’t be able to get the filibuster-proof 60 votes it needed. The Senate passed the bill last week on a 65-31 vote, with eight Republicans and two Independents joining 55 Democrats in voting for the repeal.
Legislators across the country lauded the repeal. John Kerry spoke of the repeal’s importance:
“The military remains the great equalizer,” said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. “Just like we did after President Truman desegregated the military, we’ll someday look back and wonder what took Washington so long to fix it.”
Minnesota’s Senators, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, were among the 55 Democrats to vote in favor of repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” In the House, Representatives Tim Walz, Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum and Jim Oberstar voted in support of the repeal. Rep. Franken recognized that it was long past time that the law be repealed.
“Today we’ve cleared the pathway to right a major injustice,” Franken said in a statement following the vote. “The American people are ready to end this law, the military is ready to end it, and above all it’s just the right thing to do.”
President Obama is expected to sign the legislation tomorrow.
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