Put into place in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, the policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell - a ban on openly gay men and women to serve in the military - was ended on a rare Saturday vote in the U.S. Senate. On Saturday, December 18, the vote tally was 65-31, with eight Republicans voting in favor of the repeal.
Eight Republican Senators voted in favor of repeal of DADT:
Scott Brown, R-MA,Richard Burr, R-NC, Susan Collins, R-ME, John Ensign, R-NV, Mark Kirk, R-IL, Lisa Murkowski, R-AK, Olympia Snowe, R-ME, and George Voinovich, R-OH.
The policy repeal will take months to put into place, so nothing changes immediately. This transition was preferable to the court system ruling an immediate policy implementation. That was the main reason Secretary Gates was in support of the repeal - to keep the court's timeline out of the business of the Defense Department's military decisions. It will only be implemented once certification is signed by Secretary Gates and the Joint Chief of Staff, and President Obama that it will not be disruptive.
Senator Susan Collins brought the bill to a vote as a stand alone vote, as opposed to being a part of a larger defense funding bill as it was orginally. This made it easier and a much cleaner vote for senators.
Since the inception of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, some 12,500 service members have been removed from the armed forces. Effective immediately, no one will be dismissed from service ever again due to sexual orientation.
An interesting difference in this vote and that of the DREAM Act vote that occurred on the same Saturday. DADT has been the subject of Congressional hearings and much deliberation with Pentagon officials and others, both in and out of the military at present time. The DREAM Act was not the subject of any hearing, ever, and was not the subject of serious, thoughtful debate in Congress. While it is questionalbe as to the legitimacy of the DADT repeal to occur in a lame duck session, it was definitely an easy decision to not allow the DREAM Act to move further towards enacted law until a respectful process was underway for its consideration.
Those currently under investigation for policy violation will remain so for now. It is not acceptable to come out as gay or lesbian in the armed forces for now. Until it is all signed off on, everything remains the same.
One step at a time.