Moments ago, in a vote of 250 to 175 the House voted to approve a stand-alone measure to repeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, paving the way for Senate action in the coming weeks. Fifteen Republicans voted for repeal, 10 more than had supported May’s vote for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
This afternoon’s debate was also generally more reserved than when the House first approved DADT repeal, with Republicans hiding behind the process under which the motion came to the floor and cherry picking the most negative aspects of the Pentagon’s report on the policy. Interestingly, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) was the only member of the House Republican leadership to speak out against the policy.
During the debate’s more animated moments, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) spoke out against repeal by explaining that the military “isn’t the YMCA” and Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) warned that ending the policy would “drop the bomb of social experimentation” on the military. Rep. Louie Gohmet (R-TX) delivered the most impassioned speech against repeal, suggesting that the countries with open services were “near the end of their existence” and saying that homosexuality could be tolerated if gay people could control their hormones:
GOHMERT: To my friend who said that history would judge us poorly, I would submit if you would look thoroughly at history — and I’m not saying it’s cause and effect — but when militaries throughout history of the greatest nations in the world have adopted the policy that “fine for homosexuality to be overt” — you can keep it private and control your hormones fine, if you can’t, that’s fine too — they’re toward the end of their existence as a great nation.
Watch his remarks:
The bill will now move to the Senate as a privileged “message.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will be able to call up the measure without voting on a motion to proceed, saving some 30 hours of debate in the Senate, and will have to hold firm against Republican efforts to filibuster or attach amendments to the legislation. Under this scenario, the Senate bill would have to be identical to the House version or else it would have to return to the House for another vote. Reid has pledged to keep the Senate in session as long as possible to bring repeal to the floor, but his office has not yet issued a possible time frame for floor consideration. Minutes before the measure passed the House, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) — who had filibustered the NDAA last week — issued a statement announcing that she would vote for repeal in the Senate. “After careful analysis of the comprehensive report compiled by the Department of Defense and thorough consideration of the testimony provided by the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the service chiefs, I support repeal of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ law,” Snowe said in a statement
Meanwhile, a new Washington Post released earlier today found that 77% of Americans support ending DADT, the highest level of support since the Post and ABC began polling the policy.