House votes to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

WASHINGTON (RNN) - The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to strike down "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and allow openly gay individuals to serve in the United States military.

"This vote is about whether we're going to continue telling people willing to die for our freedom that they need to lie in order to do so," said Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-PA, who co-sponsored the legislation.

With a vote of 250 to 175, the controversial policy that was signed into law by former President Bill Clinton in 1993 was overturned.

Final passage of the repeal bill will now be left in the hands of the Senate, where a bill with the same language was introduced last Friday by Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-CT, and Susan Collins, R-ME.

The new standalone approach was taken when a Republican filibuster prevented the National Defense Authorization Bill (NDAA), in which the repeal was included as an amendment, to move to the floor for debate for a second time.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she hopes her chamber's vote will encourage the Senate to take the long overdue action to vote on the bill.

"What this does is to strip away any excuse ... any justification for a filibuster," Rep. Barney Frank, D-MA, concurred.

As expected, Democrats and Republicans struck very partisan lines on the repeal issue.

Republicans raised concerns about the repeal's affects on military readiness.

"The U.S. military is not the YMCA, it's something special," said Rep. Duncan Carter, R-CA.

He and his colleagues echoed Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos's concerns about losing troops due to distraction.

For Democrats, it was time to vote yes, not only because of the results of a Pentagon study on repeal but also because it was the right thing to do.

"It doesn't matter who you love, only the flag you serve," said Rep. John Lewis, D-GA.

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