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DADT Repeal Passes, Will Become Law

December 18, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

By a vote of 65-31, the Senate has given final approval to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010, sending it to President Obama to be signed into law. The bill will end the 1993 policy banning non-heterosexual individuals from serving openly in the military, bringing the U.S. into parity with the rest of the NATO, all of the European Union and most of the developed world whose laws already protect the rights of servicemembers regardless of their sexuality.

Under the language of the bill, the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff must certify to Congress that the repeal is “consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces” and that they have “prepared the necessary policies and regulations.” After the certification is received by Congress, there will be a 60-day waiting period before the repeal will officially take effect.

The final Senate vote was supported by all Democrats and Independents, besides Sen. Joe Manchin [D, WV] who abstained, plus eight Republicans — Scott Brown [MA], Richard Burr [NC], Susan Collins [ME], John Ensign [NV], Mark Kirk [IL], Lisa Murkowski [AK], Olympia Snowe [ME] and George Voinovich [OH].

The House of Representatives passed the bill earlier in the week by a vote of 250-175.

This is a solid win for Obama and the Democrats that helps them end on an upbeat a legislative session dominated by mixed results and high-profile concessions (e.g. health care, financial reform, immigration, taxes). As David Dayen describes in a piece for Democracy, the success is due in large part to the work of gay rights activists, mostly outside of the traditional political advocacy world, who rejected all half measures and fought tooth-and-nail for their ideals of fairness and equality.

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