Cantwell Hails Sunset of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) welcomed the repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy on gays in the military, which President Obama signed into law today. The bill passed the Senate on December 18 in a 65-31 vote.
“With the President’s signature today, we have at long last ended the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy which for too long subjected thousands of U.S. service members to unnecessary and arbitrary discharge. Our military can now move forward with an orderly end to a policy that forced over thirteen thousand service members to abandon their commitment to serve their country and harmed our armed forces’ ability to recruit and maintain personnel with skills essential to protecting our national security.
“The U.S. military has in the past been in the forefront of social change, leading the way, for example, with racial integration of the force after World War II. Officially sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians was out of character for our military, and the Pentagon’s exhaustive survey showed that the vast majority of the force was ready for this change.
“It is a change that did not come easily. I want to commend two women in particular from my home state of Washington, whose combined struggles to rejoin the military under this policy and serve their country spanned nearly two decades and helped contribute to today’s victory. Retired U.S. Army Colonel Grethe Cammermeyer of Whidbey Island and Air Force Major Margaret Witt of Spokane both were honorably discharged under the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy and fought drawn-out court battles to rejoin their military units. Cammermeyer’s struggle was even the inspiration for a television movie, Serving in Silence, which helped educate millions of Americans and elevate the issue nationally.
“I look forward to timely implementation of this law so that no other individual committed to serving his or her country in the military will lose his or her job due to their sexual orientation.”