SHAHEEN LAUDS PASSAGE OF ‘DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL’ REPEAL

Senate to pass measure that will improve national security and bring equality to our military

December 18, 2010

(Washington, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today is proud to announce the Senate voted 65-31 to repeal the outdated and discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.  Its repeal will improve our national security and bring equality to our military.

"It is not often that the Senate gets the opportunity - with a single vote - to right a wrong, but we have done it here today," Shaheen said. "This was a historic vote - one for which this Senate will be remembered for a long time.  This was our opportunity to fix an outdated, discriminatory, and broken policy, and to strengthen America's security.  I am proud of what we have accomplished today, and I know the United States, our military, and our security will be better off because of this legislation."   

Since the policy was instituted in 1993, more than 14,000 service members have been expelled from the military, and an estimated 4,000 service members per year leave voluntarily because of this discriminatory policy.  One thousand of those expelled were badly needed specialists with vital mission skills - like Arabic speakers and other technical experts. 

"A nation at war is a nation that needs the best, most qualified service members we can find - regardless of sexual orientation," Shaheen said. "At a time when nearly 150,000 American men and women are serving in combat overseas and our military is stretched thin across the globe, we simply cannot afford to lose some of our finest soldiers." 

Senator Shaheen understands that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ignores the realities of today's combat environment, where American soldiers are fighting next to allied troops from around the world.  In fact, at least 12 nations allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly have fought alongside U.S. service members in Afghanistan.  At least 28 countries - including our closest allies, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, and Israel - already allow open service. 

Prior to the vote, Senator Shaheen spoke on the Senate floor in support of repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."  For the full text of her prepared remarks, please visit:

http://shaheen.senate.gov/news/speeches/speech/?id=16c7a4c6-5267-4b5a-aa79-469cb48287aa

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