The U.S. Senate has approved a bill co-sponsored by Sen. Daniel K. Akaka to overturn the military’s 17-year ban on openly gay troops known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The bill passed by a final vote of 65-31 and now heads to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature.
“I was proud to cast this historic vote,” Akaka said. “This policy change supports the American value of equality and strengthens our national security. No longer will valuable members of our military, inspired to defend our freedom, be discharged solely for having their sexual orientation revealed.
“The comprehensive study completed by the Pentagon showed that a large majority of our troops are prepared to serve with openly gay service members. Our Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff support the change. As a member of the Armed Services Committee I am confident military readiness will be maintained during the purposeful transition.
“When the bill becomes law, the U.S. will join the ranks of many of our allies, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, that allow gays to serve openly in their armed forces.”
Akaka is a veteran of World War II.
Sen. Daniel K. Inouye issued the following statement after the Senate voted to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy:
“Finally, all brave men and women who want to put on the uniform of our great nation and serve in the armed services may do so without having to hide who they are. My only regret is that nearly 13,000 men and women were expelled from the military during the 17 years that this discriminatory policy was in place. In every war we have had men and women of different sexual orientation who have risked their lives for their country. I fought alongside gay men during World War II and many of them were killed in combat. Those men were heroes. And once again, heroes will be allowed to defend their country, regardless of their sexual orientation.”
Inouye is a retired Army Captain who received the Medal of Honor for his service during World War II.