Updated: Historic Congressional Votes Open Door to Gay and Lesbian Military Service

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"Today, the House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee have said that prejudice cannot be more important than national security. Keeping good troops is good policy.” -- Aaron Belkin Director of the Palm Center

The stewardship that Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Levin have shown to see this legislation through is unparalleled. The commitment from Senator Lieberman and Congressman Murphy has been tremendous and their efforts will make a real difference in the lives of gay troops.

The Palm Center released the following statement in response to votes in the House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee allowing openly gay service in the military following a series of statutory triggers.

"It was never going to be easy to dismantle the gay ban, but the White House and Congressional leadership have launched a process that will do just that,” stated Aaron Belkin Director of the Palm Center. “For seventeen years, taxpayer money has gone to fire Arabic linguists, doctors and mission critical specialists in every field and every service because they are gay, lesbian or bisexual. Today, the House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee have said that prejudice cannot be more important than national security. Keeping good troops is good policy.”

Under the legislation passed by the full House and Senate Armed Services Committee, the ban on gays in the military would be lifted following report by a Pentagon Working Group, certification by President Obama, Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen, and a 60 day review period by Congress. The Senate will now consider the repeal language as part of the 2011 Defense Authorization Bill.

Deputy Executive Director Christopher Neff stated, “Today’s vote represents an historic effort by this Congress and the White House. President Obama’s leadership has done more for gay troops than any government in American history. The United States has now taken a step toward joining America’s allies in twenty-five foreign militaries which allow openly gay service.”

Neff added, “The stewardship that Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Levin have shown to see this legislation through is unparalleled. The commitment from Senator Lieberman and Congressman Murphy has been tremendous and their efforts will make a real difference in the lives of gay troops.”

The Palm Center is a think tank at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Since 1998, the Center has been a leader in commissioning and disseminating research in the areas of gender, sexuality, and the military. For more information visit the Palm Center.

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Laura McGinnis
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