Bill to Repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' on Way to President
This afternoon, Speaker Pelosi held an enrollment ceremony with Democratic Members of the House and Senate and service members to sign legislation repealing the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy:
The Senate passed the bill on Saturday after the House overwhelmingly passed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act on December 15th by a vote of 250-175—an even greater margin than the 234-194 vote when the House passed an amendment to repeal last May. The bill now goes to President Obama, who will sign it into law tomorrow.
Speaker Pelosi’s remarks:
Welcome to the House. Good afternoon. Today we have come together to close the door on a fundamental unfairness in our nation. [Applause.] We have gathered to advance and honor America’s cherished values of equality and equal rights.
When President Obama—and thank you President Obama and Vice President Biden for your leadership on all of this. [Applause.] When President Obama signs the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ into law tomorrow, we will begin to open the doors to our armed forces to all patriotic Americans regardless of their sexual orientation. Oh happy day!
We are here to affirm a core American principle: that anyone who wishes to serve, secure, and defend this country should be welcomed, judged by their abilities, and honored for their sacrifice. We will strengthen our national security and recognize the contributions of all Americans, the contributions that they have made to our nation’s defense. And we will fulfill our pledge to make ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ a memory by the end of this year. [Applause.]
We congratulate our colleagues in the United States Senate—Senator Lieberman and Senator Collins. And I want to acknowledge and welcome some members of the Senate to the House side. You will be hearing from them in an uncharacteristic 30-second toast to all of you. Many of them served in the House, so they are used to brevity from here. Senator Barbara Boxer. [Applause.] Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. [Applause.] Senator Mark Udall. [Applause.] Senator Patrick Leahy. [Applause.]
On the House side, we are very, very proud of a person who served our country on the battlefield and served our country in the Congress, the author of the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in the House—Patrick Murphy. [Applause.] And while you’re standing, let’s acknowledge the great leadership of Barney Frank. [Applause.] Tammy Baldwin. [Applause.] Jared Polis. [Applause.] And Susan Davis, the chair of the subcommittee on military personnel. [Applause.]
And now I am pleased to yield the floor to the gentleman from Maryland, the distinguished Democratic Leader in the House, Steny Hoyer.”
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Speaker Pelosi Closing Remarks:
Our first responsibility as elected officials is to protect the American people. It is part of the oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution, the people of our country, the values of our country. All of us on this stage take in that oath and perhaps many of you have in your various capacities. But keeping America safe, again, our first responsibility, has to happen with the fullest participation of all Americans.
Many honors are afforded Members of Congress. I can’t think of one that surpasses the honor that I will have now to sign the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ [Applause.]
But before I do, all of this on this stage and our colleagues who are here and on behalf of House and Senate, Senator Reid, Senator Lieberman, Senator Collins, so many others who worked so hard on this. We want to salute you for what you have done for our country, for your fight to promote this fundamental right for all Americans. So let us give you a standing ovation. [Applause.] Okay, you can cheer yourselves too. [Applause.]
Here we go. [Speaker picks up the bill.] This is what the bill looks like, except it is longer than this. Once it is signed, it will go down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, where tomorrow President Obama, who has led us in this fight, will sign the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’
This same legislation, again, will change the law, improve the policy, make life better for many Americans and make our country stronger. Thank you all for making this happen.
And now it is my honor to sign the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ [Applause.]
Almost—we have to use a lot of pens. The President does this faster and left-handed. [Laughter.] And Vice President Biden, he was so helpful with this and Secretary Gates, as was mentioned, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mullen was so wonderful. But it took all of you. That would make a lot of pens.
Isn’t this a joyful day? Isn’t it exciting? Here we are – repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell!’