A statement from NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.

(Washington, DC, May 27, 2010)  —Today the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to act to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), the discriminatory policy that bans lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members from openly serving in the military. The House and the Senate Armed Services Committee approved an amendment to be included in the Department of Defense appropriations bill. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) introduced the amendment in the House version, which was approved 234 to 194 in a floor vote. Earlier, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16 to 12 to include the same language in the Senate version of the appropriations bill.

The amendment outlines a two-step plan that would lead to the repeal of the policy, starting with the delivery of a “Working Group” report by the Pentagon on the implementation of the repeal to Defense Secretary Robert Gates by no later than December 1, 2010. The report and its recommendations, once approved and certified by the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the President, would then be sent to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. Action on the repeal of DADT should occur in the first quarter of 2011.

Executive Director National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell issued the following statement:

“Today’s votes in the Senate Armed Services Committee and House of Representatives are crucial first steps to repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a failed and immoral law that undermines our national security. We praise Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Representative Patrick Murphy (D-PA) for their leadership and all of those who voted to move forward to repeal this law. We also hail the tremendous efforts of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and those advocating on behalf of LGBTQ men and women in the armed forces. Everyday, these courageous service members risk their lives to protect our country and yet are forced to lie about who they are and often, who their families are, to everyone’s detriment. The amendment a compromise falls short of immediate, outright repeal. We are hopeful that today’s actions in Congress will lead to a full repeal, it is not yet time to celebrate the end of this appalling and shameful law. The discharges must end.”

Because Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell remains the law until full repeal is achieved, NCLR encourages active-duty service members, including the reserves and the National Guard, to read SLDN’s current warning: http://bit.ly/ds7JAL.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.