The U.S. Senate voted on Dec. 18 to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy barring open homosexuals from the military. Opponents of the repeal warned it will turn the military into a tool to impose “a radical social agenda” on the country.
In a 63 to 33 procedural vote, the Senate decided to hold a final vote on the policy. Sixty votes were necessary to prevent a Republican filibuster.
Six Republican senators voted for the motion: Mark Kirk of Illinois, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, George Voinovich of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Maine senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.
West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who opposes repeal of the policy, was the only Democrat not to vote for cloture. He also did not vote for or against the final bill.
The final vote came Saturday afternoon, by a vote of 65 to 31. Sens. John Ensign (R-Nev.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) decided to back the repeal.
President Barack Obama characterized the vote as “an historic step toward ending a policy that undermines our national security while violating the very ideals that our brave men and women in uniform risk their lives to defend.”
He claimed that the policy forced thousands to leave the military “because they happened to be gay” and forced thousands to be asked “to live a lie in order to serve the country they love.”
“It is time to close this chapter in our history. It is time to recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender, religion or creed,” continued his statement issued before the final vote.
After the final vote Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that service members will “do what is asked of them,” the Associated Press reports.
"But don't think there won't be a great cost."
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, said it was “a tragic day” for the armed forces.
“The American military exists for only one purpose - to fight and win wars,” he argued. “Yet it has now been hijacked and turned into a tool for imposing on the country a radical social agenda. This may advance the cause of reshaping social attitudes regarding human sexuality, but it will only do harm to the military's ability to fulfill its mission.”
He said it was “shameful” that the Democratic leadership and several Republican senators “forced through such a radical change in a lame-duck session of Congress.”
While the 1993 law which allowed undisclosed homosexuals in the military was adopted after “months of debate and at least a dozen Congressional hearings,” Perkins said, the latest vote came less than three weeks after the Pentagon’s report. He characterized the vote for cloture as a “political payoff” to “a tiny, but loud and wealthy, part of the Democratic base.”
The change in policy could have significant consequences for those who assent to Christian sexual ethics.
Many backers of the repeal also support career penalties for servicemen and women who oppose homosexuality, including military chaplains.
Some chaplains have been told by superiors that they should leave the military if they have problems of conscience under a repeal.
Military officers are judged on their compliance with the equal protection goals of the military. In a November interview, Daniel Blomberg of the Alliance Defense Fund said that under a repeal of the policy on homosexuals, one of those military goals will include support for “incorporating and supporting homosexual behavior in the military.”
Archbishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services Timothy Broglio has also opposed the repeal, citing concerns it might negatively affect the role of military chaplains. He noted that Catholic chaplains cannot accept or bless same-sex unions, and stated that no restrictions on the teaching of Catholic morality can be accepted.
In his June 1 statement, he added that moral beliefs should not be sacrificed for “merely political considerations.”