ABC News’ John R. Parkinson reports:
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made a final appeal this afternoon to vote to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, telling her colleagues that overturning the legislation would “honor the service and sacrifice of all who dedicated their lives to protecting the American people.”
“It’s been a long time coming but now is the time for us to act,” Pelosi said shortly before the House votes on a repeal this afternoon . “Today we have an opportunity to vote once again to close the door on a fundamental unfairness in our nation.”
“We know that our first responsibility as elected officials. We take an oath of office to protect and defend, and our first responsibility is to protect the American people, to keep them safe. We should honor the service of all who want to contribute to that security.” Pelosi said. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell doesn’t contribute to our national security, and it contravenes our American values, and that is why the support for its repeal has come from every corner of our country.”
Seventy-seven percent of Americans support allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military, the most in polling back 17 years, capping a dramatic long-term shift in public attitudes on the issue, according to an ABC News/Washington Post released this week .
“Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell makes for good public policy and a stronger America,” Pelosi said. “To repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Congress must act quickly. Since courts are now reviewing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, both Secretary Gates – the Secretary of Defense and Chairman Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, have called for Congress to act on a repeal with urgency so that they can begin to carry out the repeal in a consistent manner.”
Today, Speaker Pelosi recalled her 1993 floor speech when the House settled on the controversial Don’t Ask, Don’t tell policy.
“Seventeen years ago, in 1993, many of us were on the floor of the House. I had the privilege of speaking, calling on the President to act definitively to lift the ban that keeps patriotic Americans from serving in the U.S. armed forces because of their sexual orientation,” Pelosi said. “Instead we enacted the unfortunate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that has resulted in more than 13,000 men and women in uniform being discharged from military. Thousands more have decided not to reenlist.”
Last May, the House of Representatives passed the bill as a part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Pelosi said that once the House passes the repeal, it is her hope that the Senate will pass also act before the end of the Lame Duck session of Congress.
“It was a proud day for so many of us in the House [last May], and today by acting again, it is my hope that we will encourage the Senate to take long overdue action,” Pelosi said. “America has always been the Land of free and the Home of the brave. We are so because our brave men and women in uniform protect us. Let us honor their sacrifice, their service, their patriotism, by recommitting to the values that they fight for on the battlefield. I urge my colleagues to end discrimination wherever it exists in our country. I urge them to end discrimination in the military to make America safer.”