Senate panel, House approve ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ compromise plan

by
May 28, 2010

Washington (CNN) — The U.S. House and a Senate committee approved amendments to a military bill Thursday that would repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy barring openly gay and lesbian soldiers from military service, but only after some conditions are met.

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16-12 to approve compromise language on the repeal in an amendment to the military policy bill. The panel then voted 18-10 to send the bill to the full Senate.

In the House, the chamber voted 234-194 to add the amendment to its version of the defense policy bill. A final vote on the full bill was expected Friday.

President Obama praised the votes.

“I am pleased that both the House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee took important bipartisan steps toward repeal tonight,” Obama said in a statement. “This legislation will help make our Armed Forces even stronger and more inclusive by allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve honestly and with integrity.”

The Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, called it the first time since the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy came into effect during the Clinton administration that any congressional body voted to repeal it.

“This is the beginning of the end of a shameful ban on open service by lesbian and gay troops that has weakened our national security,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

The Senate committee’s vote on the amendment was mostly partisan, with 15 Democrats and one Republican — Sen. Susan Collins of Maine — supporting the compromise repeal language. The House vote also was along largely partisan lines, with 229 Democrats and five Republicans supporting the repeal amendment, while 168 Republicans and 26 Democrats opposed it.

Under the compromise, the repeal would occur after a military review of the matter and subsequent approval by Obama, the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

To read more, visit: http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/05/28/congress.military.gays.policy/

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