This is the day LGBT Americans have waited 17 years for. The senate is expected to vote on a stand-alone bill to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the Clintonian knife in the back to our community that forces gay, lesbian and bisexual service members to lie and hide who they are in order to serve their country.
You can watch live streaming of today's senate proceedings here.
As we stand by for news of the outcome, we must keep in mind that even if we get the votes, we're not out of the woods yet. Marine Corps veteran and LGBT rights activist Justin Elzie, the first Marine discharged under DADT in 1993, gave me this exclusive statement this morning:
"As the first U.S. Marine discharged under DADT and then later reinstated, I feel hopeful that this vote for cloture today and the final vote in the next day or two will finally get rid of this egregious policy. People need to know that this is an important first step, but this is not over until after a 60 day waiting period, a certification by the President, Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and an implementation plan started by the Pentagon that needs to be rolled out."
"Most importantly the discharges need to stop and that doesn’t happen yet with today’s vote. This is not over until all of that happens. This vote is happening today thanks to the tireless efforts of many veterans and activists from groups like Servicemembers United to GetEqual. Let’s celebrate after today’s vote but realize we will need to roll up our sleeves and get the discharges stopped and an implementation plan finished before this is over.”13 GetEqual activists arrested for chaining themselves to the White House fence on November 15th in an effort to pressure the president to move forward on his promise to repeal DADT.
Justin contributes to the blog Queer New York and his much anticipated memoir, "Playing By The Rules" is now available at Rebel Satori Press. I ordered my copy today and can't wait to read it.