By Maurice E. Duhon, Jr.
Looks like you’re not the only person working over-time this holiday season. The Congress and Senate of your nation’s capital have facilitated the passage of one of our most controversial and publicized political issues, the repeal of the ban on gays in the military, ending the United States Military’s 17-year old “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
President Barack Obama, campaigning on this very issue in 2008, seems likely to sign the bill into law. The 111th Congress will take credit for the work as the 112th Congress is ushered into office on January 3rd of the approaching New Year.
Upon the Senate republican’s recent blocking of the bill’s advancement, the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” was thought to have no hope for passage before the year’s end.
Saturday, a vote for “cloture” or a vote to close debate on DADT repeal was reached within the Senate, blocking a republican filibuster just hours before the bill’s final vote for passage. The republicans would need 41 votes to allow a filibuster to delay or impede the bill’s progress. With 6 republicans voting in favor of DADT repeal, the republicans were unable to prevent a final vote for the bill’s passage into law.
The six republicans, stepping across their party’s political lines, included Mark Kirk of Illinois, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, George Voinovich of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine.
When a final vote on the subject reached the Senate floor, two republican Senators, Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina and John Ensign of Nevada, shared the viewpoint of the six republican DADT repeal supporters and would bring the total to 8 republicans voting in favor of DADT repeal.
Due to what, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, referred to as a “family gathering”, Sen. Manchin was not present for the vote and on those grounds a vote of “against” was cast for his seat. Senator Manchin’s “NO” vote would be the only “against” vote cast by the Senate democrats.
Saturday’s Senate vote of 65 “for” and 31 “against” marked a historic moment for the gay-rights movement. Some choose to view the DADT repeal’s passage as a political victory for President Obama. With Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Uruguay all allowing gays to serve in their military forces, some others choose to view the bill’s passage as a victory for 21st century common-sense in American politics.