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Public Statements

Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. Speaker, in considering their position on this bill, Members should listen to echoes of the past, leaders of the present, and consider some of the voices that have been silenced.

In the past, we heard: If we should end this policy, it would be a tragedy of great proportion. I fear such a step, if it were carried out, would remove our armed establishments from the ranks of history's greatest.

Those are the words of a Senator in 1948 talking about the racial integration of the Armed Forces. They have thrived and prospered since that just and correct decision.

Listen to this voice: In the almost 17 years since Don't Ask, Don't Tell was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed. I fully support the approach presented by Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen.

That is the voice of Colin Powell, retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, someone who experienced all of the unit leadership that is being talked about on the floor this afternoon.

But I would invite the Members to think about the silenced voices, the men and women who lay maimed in military hospitals who are gays and lesbians who serve their country and have been injured in the process, who cannot have a visit from the person they love most in the world because they have had to hide their sexual orientation. And I would urge the Members to consider the silenced voices who lay beneath white crosses in Arlington Cemetery and other places of honor around the world who are gays and lesbians who have been dishonored by a practice that says they cannot say who they really are, even though they love their country so very much.

This is an act of basic decency and justice. It is long overdue. For those who quarrel with time, I agree with their quarrel. This should have been done a long time ago. Today is the day to get it done. Vote ``yes.''


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