The House of Representatives voted 250-175 Wednesday in favor of repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," a policy which has banned gays from openly serving in the United States military since 1993. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hailed the vote as a step in closing "the door on a fundamental unfairness" in America.
Meanwhile, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., took to the floor of the House to condemn Republicans' opposition to the measure:
The issue will now go before the Senate where it faces an uphill battle for approval as the days of the lame-duck congressional session wind down. The Associated Press reports:
Many Republicans, led by Sen. John McCain of Arizona, argue that it would be a mistake for the military to undergo a major cultural change while the nation is fighting two wars.
Implementation of any new policy should begin "when our singular focus is no longer on combat operations or preparing units for combat," said Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon of California, top Republican on the Armed Services Committee.
The issue also has split the military. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other senior military leaders support lifting the restrictions on gay service, pointing to a recent Pentagon study showing that most people in uniform don't object to serving with gays. But the head of the Marine Corps, Commandant Gen. James Amos, repeated his opposition this week, saying that lifting the ban during wartime could cost lives. "I don't want to lose any Marines to the distraction," he said.
The repeal has met stiff opposition in the Senate before. In May, the House of Representatives voted 234-194 in favor of legislation that would've repealed DADT, but the measure stalled in the Senate on two separate occasions as the controversial measure was tied to larger policy initiatives.
But the House's vote today was on a stand-alone bill -- one Democrats had hoped would avoid complicated partisan gridlock. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., are promoting the stand-alone bill in the Senate and the bill's supporters claim to have the 60 votes needed for passage.
Still, the measure may not reach the floor before the lame duck session expires as GOP leaders have pledged to block all legislation until the Senate hammers out a deal to extend Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans.