News / USA

    Congress Moves Closer to Repealing a Ban on Gays Serving Openly in the US Military

    Cindy Saine

    The U.S. Congress has taken a major step forward towards repealing a ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the U.S. military.  Gay rights advocates and civil rights groups cheered the vote, while some conservative religious groups and some Republican lawmakers said repealing the ban would be harmful to morale and to the readiness of the U.S. military.

    The House of Representatives voted 234 to 194 late Thursday to approve an amendment aimed at ending the so-called "don't ask, don't tell" policy established in 1993 that allows homosexuals to serve in the U.S. military in secret, but expels them if they reveal their sexual orientation.  The vote came only a few hours after a similar vote to repeal the ban by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    Gay rights advocates called the two votes Thursday "a watershed moment" in their efforts to put an end to the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which they say discriminates against homosexuals who want to serve their country.  

    Jarrod Chlapowski is a veteran who served in South Korea and is the military adviser to the Human Rights Campaign gay rights group. "It is such a momentous occasion to see all these members of Congress coming out in support, I mean having a majority of 234 votes in the House is just incredible.  It is very surreal right now, particularly for people I know who are just waiting to go back in [to the military]," he said.

    Under the amendment, the repeal would not go into effect until after a review by senior U.S. military leaders, due to be completed in December. The repeal of the ban also has to be passed by the full U.S Senate before it can become law, and requires that the president, the defense secretary and the Joint Chiefs of Staff all agree that the change will not hurt the military's ability to fight.

    Repubican lawmakers opposed the amendment, saying Congress should wait until the review process set up by the Obama administration is complete.  

    Tom McClusky is Senior Vice President of Family Research Council Action, the legislative arm of the conservative religious group, Family Research Council.  McClusky said President Obama and other Democrats are trying to push the repeal through Congress for political reasons.  "It affects readiness, it affects retention and it affects recruitment, and until that is found to be different, the president and Congress has no right and should not be moving forward in changing the policy," he said.

    One of the amendment's sponsors, Democrative Representative Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania said the U.S. military needs all the able-bodied troops it can get to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "When I served in Baghdad, my team did not care whether a fellow soldier was straight or gay.  We cared if they could fire their M-4 assault rifle or run a convoy down Ambush alley.  Could they do their job so that everybody in our unit would come home safely?," he said.

    President Barack Obama has been seeking to repeal the ban, and said in a statement the legislation to repeal the ban would make the U.S. military "even stronger and more inclusive by allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve honestly and with integrity."

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has publicly made clear that he supports allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the U.S. military, said he would have preferred that Congress waited until after the Pentagon's review is complete.

    A recent opinion survey by CNN found that 70 percent of Americans are in favor of repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora