In an unprecedented act, Senate Republicans voted not to allow the Defense Department authorization bill to be brought up for debate. While a number of reasons were given, the clear goal was to stop the Senate from ending the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Sen. Bernie Sanders voted to stop the filibuster. He also would have voted to end the 16-year-old policy that has cost 13,000 gay service members their military careers.
“Particularly during this time when our military finds itself stretched so thin, I find it irresponsible that we deny thousands of honorable American citizens the opportunity to serve their country,” Sanders said. “As a nation, we owe those who desire to dedicate their lives to service an equal chance to do so,” he added.
As U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips found in a ruling earlier this month striking down the policy as unconstitutional, “don’t ask, don’t tell” has contributed to “critical troop shortages” and resulted in the discharge of service members with valuable skills, like fluency in Arabic.
Sanders opposed the law from the beginning. On Sept. 29, 1993, then-Rep. Sanders voted against an amendment establishing the policy. Later that same day, Sanders voted no when the House passed the Defense Authorization Act including the new policy against gays serving openly in the armed forces.
What do you think? Do you favor or oppose the policy that prohibits gays and lesbians from serving in the military if they reveal their sexual orientation? Take the poll here.