WASHINGTON (BP)--In a landmark moment for the homosexual movement, the Senate Dec. 18 sent President Obama a bill overturning the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, a move that will lead to open homosexuality in the military and will harm religious liberty, readiness, privacy and retention, critics say.
"... This will cause significant numbers of people to resign from the military -- in the middle of two wars."
-- Richard Land
The Senate's 65-31 vote during the lame duck session capped a nearly year-long effort by the Obama administration to reverse the 17-year-old policy, which was adopted in 1993 as a compromise between conservatives and President Clinton, who wanted homosexuals to be able to serve openly but faced resistance from Congress and the Pentagon. As part of the '93 compromise, homosexuals would not have to disclose their sexuality on the front end -- as had been required -- although they would be required to keep their homosexuality secret while serving.
The U.S. military has never allowed open homosexuality.
Obama urged Congress during his January State of the Union address to reverse the policy, and the Pentagon studied the issue for 10 months before releasing a much-debated survey on the final day of November. Opponents of the current policy rushed to pass the bill during the lame duck session after Republicans -- most of whom supported the current policy -- made significant gains on Election Day. New legislators will be sworn in Jan. 5.
Obama has not said when he will sign the bill. The bill previously passed the House, 250-175.
"This is a very, very sad day for America," Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told Baptist Press. "It is an honor and a privilege, not a right, to serve in our nation's military. There are multitudes of reasons why the military is the most respected national institution in American life. I have heard from privates and seamen all the way through generals and admirals that this will cause significant numbers of people to resign from the military -- in the middle of two wars."
Technically, the policy won't be repealed even when Obama signs the bill. A complete repeal will require certification by Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen that it won't harm the military. All three, though, supported the bill.
Democratic support carried the bill in both chambers. In the Senate, all 31 "no" votes came from Republicans, and eight Republicans joined 57 Democrats to support it.... Read More