Gays Celebrate Repeal Of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

NEW YORK (AP/CBSNewYork) — Word that the world’s largest military power will allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military brought strong and swift reaction Saturday, with supporters declaring a civil rights milestone and detractors insisting it would weaken and divide the armed forces.

In New York, discharged serviceman, 28-year-old Cassandra Melnikow glanced at a news ticker in Times Square announcing the repeal and said: “Excellent! It’s about time.”

“I don’t see what difference (sexual orientation) makes in the fighting military,” said Melnikow, a public health researcher. “What’s the big deal?”

Also Saturday, City Council Member Daniel Dromm, one of the first openly gay elected officials in Queens, and openly gay veteran Denny Meyer held a news conference in Jackson Heights praising Congress for the vote.

1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan Reports

“I’m ecstatic because I’ve been waiting for this for 35 years, at least. It renews my faith in American freedom and American democracy,” Meyer said addressing reporters including 1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan.

“Finally today, America has become a little more equal,” Dromm said.

Both men said the repeal was as important as when the armed forces were integrated in 1948.

Meyer, founder of the New York chapter of American Veterans for Equal Rights,  said he was surprised Congress actually had the courage to pass the measure.

“Think about how amazing it is that after two failures, that Democrats and a few Republicans were so determined that they actually did it. I’m astounded,” Meyer said.

In New Jersey, Sen. Bob Menendez called “don’t ask, don’t tell” a “ridiculous notion” and “a relic of a bygone era.”

In a press release, the senator said the repeal was “an important step for civil rights and national security.”

President Barack Obama had made repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” a campaign promise in 2008, and rounding up a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate was a historic victory for him. By the time President Bill Clinton proposed allowing gays to serve in the military in 1993, they had been explicitly barred from military service since World War I.

Foes of lifting the ban argued that the military shouldn’t be used to expand the rights of gays and that allowing them to serve openly would hurt troop morale and a unit’s ability to fight — the same arguments used against women and blacks.

In the end, Congress agreed to let gays serve only if their sexual orientation remained secret.

Repeal means that for the first time in U.S. history, gays will be openly accepted by the military and can acknowledge their sexual orientation without fear of being discharged. More than 13,500 service members have been dismissed under the 1993 law.

The change wouldn’t take immediate effect, however. The legislation says the president and his top military advisers must certify that lifting the ban won’t hurt troops’ fighting ability. After that, there’s a 60-day waiting period for the military.

Conservative organizations said the vote didn’t reflect the sentiments of rank-and-file military members and should not have taken place so close to the end of the current session of Congress.

“The issue that really disturbs me more than anything else is that legislation that’s controversial tends to be done in lame-duck sessions when a number of the elected representatives are no longer accountable to the people,” said Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council.

The Massachusetts Family Institute said Republican senators who voted for the measure broke a promise they had made not to vote on the repeal until the federal budget was resolved.

“In doing so, they not only have put special interests above fiscal interests but also have put our troops at risk during wartime,” said Kris Mineau, the group’s president.

Some supporters of the repeal traveled to Washington to witness the vote, including Sue Fulton, a former Army captain and company commander who is spokeswoman for Knights Out, a group of 92 gay and lesbian West Point graduates who are out and no longer serving.

Driving back home to North Plainfield, N.J., the 51-year-old Fortune 500 executive told The Associated Press that she thinks the repeal will have an effect on the civil rights of gays in America.

“As more people realize that gay and lesbian citizens are risking their lives to defend this country, perhaps they’ll be more willing to acknowledge gays and lesbians as full citizens in other ways,” she said.

Others monitored the vote from afar.

Several gay service veterans and others supporting the repeal stood around a small computer screen to watch C-SPAN coverage of the vote at San Francisco’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center. They erupted in cheers as the final tally was read.

Zoe Dunning, a retired U.S. Navy commander who continued to serve after declaring she was gay, cried and hugged other supporters.

“I’m living proof that the mere presence of an openly gay person in your unit does not harm either cohesion or morale,” she said. “After 18 years working on this, I witnessed the end to this destructive policy, and these are tears of joy… I’m so happy to be present for this day that I’d always dreamed of.”

Warren Arbury of Savannah, Ga., served in the Army for seven years, including three combat tours, before being kicked out two years ago under “don’t ask, don’t tell.” But he said he planned to re-enlist once the policy is officially abolished.

“As soon as they give me the go, I’m going to march into the recruiter’s office,” he said. “And I want retroactive pay and rank.”

Arbury said a fight for other social changes — such as allowing gays to marry and easing obstacles they face in adopting and raising children — still lies ahead, however.

“I think it’s one step in a very long process of becoming an equal rights citizen,” he said. “Even though this is really huge, I look at it as a chink in a very, very long chain.”

Aaron Belkin, director of the California-based Palm Center — a think tank on the issue — said the vote “ushers in a new era in which the largest employer in the United States treats gays and lesbians like human beings.”

For thousands of years, he said, one of the key markers for first-class citizenship in any nation is the right to serve in the military, and Saturday’s vote “is a historic step toward that.”

(TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • EricM

    This is much ado about nothing. Be gay. No one cares anymore. This is not a victory for gays, it is a defeat. Once again, they are singled out as ‘different’ and are being treated as such. Heterosexuals do not ‘declare’ their sexuality to anyone, because it is completely unimportant.

  • christopherlorenc

    mtwala is so wrong and total bs! the romans encouraged maturbation by the troops to prevent familiarity! his comments are total bs and have no historical basis!!

  • JF

    This is not accurate. A hight percentage of Soldiers, Airman, Marines, Seaman indicated that they can serve in the military effectively if DADT is repealed. However, a high percentage of those military men/women serving in actual ‘combat” roles indicated letting service men/women serve openly in “combat units” will have a negative effect.

  • Paul

    I think everyone needs to calm down and check this out:

  • Ken

    Just a way for the Dems to “show” the people that they “care”….and only ensures votes for them….Just remember all Politicans sell their morals to get votes.


    If they can shoot back. WHO CARES!!!!!

  • Mtwala

    The ancient Romans encouraged gay relationshps amongst their troops. These are the same troops that historians often quote as being the best soldiers od the ancient world.

  • Doc4115

    The media is so wrong on this one. If DADT is lifted then the UCMJ is in full effect until rewritten by congress.
    UCMJ Sec. 925, Art. 125. deals with Sodomy and it states, “(a) Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration , however slight, is sufficient to complete the offense.”
    This is a court martial offense.

    • Jason

      You are wrong. It will not have to be “rewritten”. I will be amended. Do your homework before posting. After today, it is no longer a court martial offense.

      • Peter Field

        IF it isn’t a court martial offense, it should be!!!!!!

    • Paul Little

      It’s also stupid and embarrassing. Get rid of it immediately, America, if you want to be taken seriously as a country.

  • Peter Hudson

    Its sad that politicians have to celebrate politicizing the Military… Its a shame that appeasing groups that keep dividing the US is the main focus versus keeping the majority of Americans proud of America… I am an American and I am ashamed of my country.

    • Paul Little

      Then leave. 85% of soldiers serving in combat today don’t care about the sexual orientation of their brothers and sisters and don’t think it impacts their performance. You should be ashamed of yourself for being such an inhuman beast. You’ve failed as somebody who pretends to care about the military and you’ve failed as a humanitarian. Congratulations, in a way.

    • jerry caffarello

      then move to Saudi Arabia.

  • Rick Waypoint

    Why does it seem as though politicians are making decisions that go against what the people want? What’s the story with all the gay and closet gay politicians?

    There is also very legitimate evidence that Obama is gay. Why does Obama now also just happen to be gay? Because it’s a control mechanism based on shame and used by others with the same shame factors on them.

    Do as search on: “Obama gay bath house”. Obama and his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel are lifetime members of the same Chicago gay bath house. This is according to informed sources in Chicago’s gay community and veteran political sources in the city.

    Some of the people who he has reportedly had affairs with include:
    Donald Young, Trinity United Church of Christ Choir director
    Larry Sinclair, gay escort
    Reggie Love, White House presidential assistant and Obama’s personal trainer and White House “special assistant” — also called Obama’s “body man”
    Artur Davis, US Representative from Alabama and gubernatorial candidate
    Bill Frist, former GOP Senate Majority Leader
    Deval Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts

    Several well-placed sources in Chicago also reported that Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s church pastor of 20 years for the Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC) ran a matchmaking service for gay married black professional members of the church, including lawyers and businessmen, particularly those with children. The clientele also included Obama and other gay members of TUCC.

    The reason why so many politicians are closet gays is because it is a shame factor that is used as a control mechanism just like child abuse.

    The problem is also that whether it’s known or not that they’re gay it is still a shame factor and this gives them a tendency to do other shameful things since they evaluate the shame of doing something else that’s shameful with that of what they’ve already being shamed with, i.e, that they’re gay. This has implications for trust.

    It’s always going to be a shame factor since it goes against what people believe is god and it goes against evolution and, thus, it means that they’re innately in conflict with what most other people believe and have it in them to think is wrong. This also has implications for trust.

    What the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” does for those of us that believe in morality either according to god or evolution is that we can be more effective in dealing with them in that they won’t be hidden anymore.

    It goes against god and evolution. It’s not normal. We must use this to do something about it.

    • Gizen

      Better, simpler question for you. Do you actually know what evolution is? Because I’m pretty sure you don’t.

      • Rick Waypoint

        I don’t think gays know what evolution is because if they did they would know that being gay goes against it. They may, though, try and use some gay denial mechanism and think that it’s something else. The word “gay” itself is a denial mechanism. i.e, think happy thoughts about it and not what it actually is.

        Evolution is about survival. It’s about getting your genes into the next generation. We’re programmed to think that being gay is wrong since it doesn’t do anything to get our genes into the next generation. That is why we feel so strongly about it since those that don’t have gay behaviours will be more effective survivors since they will be more effective in getting their genes into the next generation.

        How much do I know about evolution? Well I have a Master’s degree with distinction from simulating evolution in computers in order to analyse it’s problem solving ability. The truth is that it can solve problems without being told how to solve them. The fact that we’re programmed ourselves to think that being gay is wrong is evolution’s answer to the adverse effects of gay behaviour for survival.

        So yes I do know what evolution is.

    • Paul Little

      So what you’re saying is that you should be institutionalized? That’s what I’m getting out of this.

    • jerry caffarello

      i think rick is sick

      • Rick Waypoint

        So “rick is sick” because he’s saying that being gay is wrong because it goes against what people believe is god and it goes against evolution. No if we have god and evolution on our side then what do you have? That can only mean that you’re sick.

  • WEM

    I foresee a flood of complaints in the near future from gay military members. When they’re not promoted as fast as they’d like they’ll scream bloody murder. Meanwhile the stories of gay military folks raping others will never see the light of day. There are thousands of incidents of gay men raping straight men but for some reason those stories never reach the media. As a straight man in Afghanistan I appreciated DADT because it didn’t hurt unit morale. If a gay Marine outs himself in front of his command he will be socially ostracized and it will impact unit cohesiveness.

    • Peter Field


      • Gizen

        Man, I had a bad experience with a straight guy once. He was a complete monster, kicked puppies, mugged people on the street, and tried to murder me. Since you’re also a straight guy, I guess that makes you a puppy kicking, murdering, thief, since apparently one bad apple spoils the whole bunch, right?

    • Paul Little

      Ah, right! Because equal rights must be made tantamount to “special” rights by all those who oppose them. I’d almost forgotten how you people operate.

  • Tony Brown

    Here’s a statement from Yahoo. Does anyone see a problem witht this statement because that is how he has ran office from the begining. Enjoy your dictator.

    Obama was expected to sign the bill into law next week, although changes to military policy probably wouldn’t take effect for at least several months. Under the bill, the president and his top military advisers must first certify that lifting the ban won’t hurt troops’ ability to fight. After that, the military would undergo a 60-day wait period.

    • Paul Little

      He’s a dictator because he’s allowing Americans to serve their country without having to live a lie? Or is he perhaps a dictator because he’s honoring the beliefs and opinions of the 85% of troops who are currently serving and don’t care about their brothers and sisters sexual orientation? Help me out here.

  • WEM

    I seriously doubt you’ll see a flood of gays rushing to join the military. It’s not exactly a world in which they’ll feel total inclusion since discipline, morale, and esprit de corp are critical to mission success. Also, 10% of all rape victims in the military are men. The straight men will defend themselves against the gay sexual predators by every physical means available. After 21 years of service and tours in Iraq/Afghanistan I know what the outcome will be.

  • John

    Same sex dates allowed at formal balls each service holds?



    • Paul Little

      And here’s another one for the funny farm. Reality called, Cheryl. It wants you to know that you’re welcome to synch up with it any old time you’d like.

      • Rick Waypoint

        The only answers for everything, i.e reality, throughout history have been god and evolution. Being gay goes against both god and evolution. So I think it’s you who needs to synch up with reality.

    • Christopher Hopkins Jardel

      Dearest cheryl… If you did not know something, dont you think some eagerness on your part would’ve better help inform you?

      Fighting for freedom IS NOT about sex or even sexuality… Its about choice, freedom, civil liberties, and not opressing a human based solely on who they sleep with. As long as it is 2 consenual adults and it doesnt affect your well being then you should really not care… but that is your opinion, just as it is my opinion to say that your type of ignorance is dangerous and should be made illegal. This is all coming from a GAY MAN that has served his Navy and country for 10 yrs with honor.

  • James Musslewhite

    Well now you can truly say that the military both sucks and blows.

  • nathan

    My stepson recently returned from the front lines in Afghanistan. He said no one gives a rats azz about your sexuality, only how good a shot you are.

  • Adam

    “Also Saturday, City Council Member Daniel Dromm, one of the first openly gay elected officials in Queens” LOL…..a gay official in Queens. Classic.

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