It's not hard to see the impact of today's vote. Servicemembers United put it in pretty clear terms this afternoon, in a release they sent out to their membership.
“This vote represents an historic step forward for this country, and it will very likely be a life-changing moment for gay and lesbian troops,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and a former multi-lingual Army interrogator who was discharged for being gay. “While we still have a long road ahead, including the certification process and a yet-to-be-determined implementation period, those who defend our freedom while living in fear for their careers will finally breathe a sigh of relief tonight, and those who have fallen victim to this policy in years past will finally begin to see true closure and redemption on the horizon.”
No surprise that LGBT organizations are championing today's vote. But what do military leaders have to say about the passage of repeal legislation? Look no further than Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, who issued a powerful statement this afternoon after the Senate vote.
"It is the right thing to do. No longer will able men and women who want to serve and sacrifice for their country have to sacrifice their integrity to do so," Admiral Mullen said today, referencing the fact that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" required and encouraged troops to lie. But then came nine words from Admiral Mullen that really strike at the heart of why it's so critical for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to hit the road.
"We will be a better military as a result," Admiral Mullen concluded.
And that's the bottom line. Today is a victory for LGBT rights organizations and activists who have put heart and soul into tearing down this discriminatory law. But today also marks a victory for the entire country, because without "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" on the books, we will be a safer country. Sixty-five Senators will go down in history as advancing a major civil rights initiative today.
As for the 31 Senators that voted against? Well, they'll go down in history, too, as legislators who wanted to keep discrimination, oppression, and dishonesty alive and well in the U.S. military.