The United States Senate overturned America’s ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy for military personnel on Friday.
The move, which created widespread celebration among America’s gay and lesbian communities, will allow President Barack Obama to sign the legislation into law in the coming week. It will end a longstanding ban on openly gay Americans serving in the US military.
The move passed easily with a vote of 65-31, however, defence secretary Robert Gates, a proponent of the bill, reminded gay and lesbian soldiers that they still must wait for the law to come into force and until then ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ must continue to be observed.
Meanwhile President Obama expressed his approval of the measure, saying that by bringing ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ to an end, the US would no longer deny itself from the proud service of thousands of Americans that had been forced out of military service, simply because they happen to be homosexual. Moreover, he added, thousands more would no longer be forced to live a lie in order to serve their beloved country.
Until 1993, gays and lesbians were banned altogether from military service. Then the ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy went into effect during President Bill Clinton’s time in the oval office.