'Don't ask' repeal clears House, heads to Senate
Excerpts from JIM ABRAMS, MSNBC -
Legislation allowing openly gay people to serve in the military has cleared the House and now heads to what could be a tough fight in the Senate.
The House approved a defense spending bill that contains a provision to repeal the 1993 "don't ask, don't tell" law that demands that gays serving in the military keep their sexual orientation secret.
If it clears the Senate, the repeal would become law only after a Pentagon study on its impact and after the president and military leaders certify that the policy change will not affect the military's fighting ability.
The drive to end the ban still has a way to go. The 234-194 House vote Thursday was an amendment to a bill approving more than $700 billion for military operations that some lawmakers vowed to vote against if the "don't ask, don't tell" repeal was included.
Several Republicans voiced strong opposition to any change in current policy. "It is very clear that homosexuality is incompatible with military service," Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., said.
"I think it's really going to be very harmful to the morale and effectiveness of our military," said Sen. John McCain of Arizona
The chief sponsor of the amendment, Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa., who served in the Iraq war, said that when he was in Baghdad, "my teams did not care whether a fellow soldier was straight or gay if they could fire their assault rifle or run a convoy down ambush alley and do their job so everyone would come home safely."
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said that of the 13,500 who have been discharged under "don't ask, don't tell," more than 1,000 filled critical occupations, such as engineers and interpreters.