California’s U.S. Senators are overjoyed that the U.S. Senate voted 65-31 to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy limiting gays’ and lesbians’ participation in the U.S. Armed Forces. It now goes to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.
For the record, Senators Richard Burr, R-N.C., and John Ensign, R-Nev., voted against cloture on the DADT repeal, but then voted in favor of the repeal itself – perhaps having their political cake and eating it, too?
From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., after the cloture vote:
“The first vote today to move forward with the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was 63-33 to end discrimination against gay men and women in the United States military. Seventeen years ago, the vote was exactly the opposite, 33-63. One-third of support has changed to two-thirds of the United States Senate supporting the repeal of Don’t ask, Don’t Tell over the past seventeen years.
“I strongly believe that is emblematic of the change of thinking in the United States. Over these last years, gay Americans have established themselves as heroes, as professionals, as academicians, and as brave warriors for our country.
“There are millions of stories that demonstrate this, but I will share just a few that stand out. In 1975, I was there in San Francisco when a woman carrying a gun attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford. It was a gay man who grabbed her gun which deflected the shot aimed at our President.
“In 1982, I remember when a plane crashed on the 14th Street Bridge in Washington and passengers were on the verge of drowning in the ice-covered Potomac River. It was a gay man who jumped in the freezing water to save them.
“It was a gay woman serving as an Army medic in Iraq who saved the lives of innocent civilians who were critically wounded after a car bomb exploded in their midst. I can go on and on.
“Gays and lesbians are not the first group of Americans to be denied their civil rights. And they are not the first group to fight in service for the cherished freedom and equality which they have been denied.
“They have struggled long and hard to see this day. They have fought and died for their country, and they are out there on the battlefield today as we stand here debating whether they deserve their rights. I am proud to see this vote for them today.”
And from U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:
“This is a historic vote for equality, civil rights and a stronger America. This vote is a continuation of our nation’s march toward full equality for all.”
But both are disappointed that the DREAM Act – which would have provided a pathway to citizenship for undocumented students who go to college or serve in the military – fell five votes short of the 60 it needed in order for cloture to be invoked, debate to end and a final vote to be called.
“I am deeply disappointed. I looked up in the galleries which were filled with bright young faces of young people whose only desire was to be good Americans – to better themselves, to become educated, to earn a living, to be willing to fight for this country, and be proud of the fact that they are American. They have no hope of becoming American without the DREAM Act.
“The DREAM Act is important to the United States. I have no doubt that this legislation will be debated on the Senate floor again. To the young people who watched this vote today and feel deep despair- keep fighting.
“For those that did not support this legislation, I ask that you think about the years that these bright young people will spend in limbo. These young people could be putting their education to good use but instead will be unable to realize their potential and give back to the country they consider home. I look forward to when I can cast my vote in favor of the DREAM Act again.”
And, from Boxer:
“It is a sad day for our country when we turn our backs on some of our best and brightest young people who grew up in America, love America and want to serve America.
“I commend the brave young men and women who have stepped forward at great personal risk to call America’s attention to this injustice, and I will not rest until the DREAM Act is the law of the land.”