The U.S. House of Representatives passed a stand-alone repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy this afternoon. The House previously passed a measure to overturn the policy as part of a piece of defense legislation, but recent repeal stalls in the Senate prompted House leaders to revisit the issue.
The final vote total was 250 to 175.
Some 15 Republicans voted for repeal. Only five Republicans voted for repeal when the House took on the measure earlier in the year.
In the debate leading up to a final vote on the bill, U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) made an impassioned plea on the House floor for passage.
U.S. House votes to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
“I have two words,” Lewis said. “Vote yes. Vote yes for equality. Vote yes because discrimination is wrong!”
In his typical style, Lewis moved those in the House chamber with his words. Many applauded after he finished speaking.
During the open debate, which lasted for an hour late this afternoon, many Republicans suggested that the time was not right for repeal due to the country’s commitment in two wars. House Republicans, echoing their colleagues in the Senate, also questioned the procedure used to bring the bill forward.
Several Democrats, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), compared “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to racial segregation in the military. “It was wrong then, and it’s wrong now,” Hoyer said.
Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Ca.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said today that if repeal legislation were to pass during the lame-duck session, Republican leadership had not discussed whether or not to attempt to roll it back during the 112th Congress (when the GOP assumes control of the House).
Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Ct.) and Susan Collins (R-Me.) last week announced a plan to bring a stand-alone measure in front of the Senate for an up or down vote before the end of the lame-duck session. There has not been a scheduled debate or vote planned for the bill, though Democratic leaders are threatening to work into the Christmas break to address the bill.