Matlovich's GraveIn an historic vote, the United States Senate has passed an act repealing the ban on openly gay soldiers serving in the armed forces, 65-33. Eight Republicans sided with the mostly Democratic call for repeal. The ban, called “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” or “DADT,” has been in effect since 1993. President Barack Obama has expressed opposition to the ban since his presidential campaign.

“As commander in chief, I am also absolutely convinced that making this change will only underscore the professionalism of our troops as the best led and best trained fighting force the world has ever known,” said the President, after the vote.

Organized opposition to allowing openly gay people to serve in the military has mostly been limited to those on the farthest fringe of the right wing, among groups recently classified by the SPLC as “hate groups,” like the American Family Association and Peter LaBarbera’s Americans for Truth About Homosexuality. Poll after poll and study after study showed the public, politicians, and veterans support its end. Even the National Organization for Marriage supports lifting the ban.

In a pathetic and somewhat unexpected lurch to the fringe right, Vietnam War veteran and once-dubbed “maverick” Sen. John McCain (AZ-R) fought repeal all the way, calling today’s vote “a sad day in history.”

Another historic aspect of the repeal is the fact that it is a stand-alone bill, and not one attached to a “can’t-lose” measure. The previous attempt to repeal DADT was attached to a bill that bitterly divided Congress along party lines, causing many would-be supporters to vote “no.” Politicians voting for repeal of DADT this time around so voted based on whether or not they supported equality. History will not be kind to those who voted “no.”

Categorized in: