Victory for ‘Liberal Social Agenda,’ Conservatives Say; ‘Right Thing to Do,’ Military Leader Says

By Susan Jones | December 20, 2010 | 10:42 AM EST

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., center, with Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., left, and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., speaks at a news conference about the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" bill during on an unusual Saturday session on Capitol Hill in Washington Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

( – Calling it a “tragic day for our armed forces,” the conservative Family Research Council criticized the lame-duck Senate for passing a bill which, the FRC says, will do nothing to enhance national security or help the military do its job.
But the U.S. defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff welcomed Saturday’s vote by the U.S. Senate that eventually will end the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the U.S. military.

Once the bill is signed into law by the president, the Department of Defense said it will “immediately proceed with the planning necessary to carry out this change carefully and methodically, but purposefully.”

The legislation specifies that repeal will take effect only after Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and President Obama certify that the new policies and regulations will not undermine military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion and troop retention.

The Family Research Council said the U.S. military exists for one purpose only – to fight and win wars. “Yet it has now been hijacked and turned into a tool for imposing on the country a radical social agenda,” the FRC said in a news release after the Senate voted 65-31 to repeal the ban.

Repealing the homosexual ban “may advance the cause of reshaping social attitudes regarding human sexuality, but it will only do harm to the military's ability to fulfill its mission,” the FRC said.

Thirty-one Republicans – not a single Democrat – voted against repeal.

Eight Republicans joined 55 Democrats and 2 independents in voting for repeal. The eight Republicans include Scott Brown (Massachusetts), Richard Burr (North Carolina), John Ensign (Nevada), Mark Kirk (Illinois), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins (Maine), and George Voinovich (Ohio).

It’s not just what the Democrats did – it’s how they did it, said FRC President Tony Perkins: "It is shameful that the Democratic leadership, aided by Republican Senators, has forced through such a radical change in a lame-duck session of Congress.” 

Perkins noted that the 1993 law being repealed was adopted only after months of debate and at least a dozen congressional hearings. But the repeal was forced through just 18 days after the Pentagon released a report on the issues associated with repealing the Clinton-era “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

And that Defense Department report, Perkins noted, “raised more questions than it answered on the impact the overturning of this policy will have on our nation's military.”

Perkins said the lame-duck Senate voted, not to enhance the military's ability to accomplish its mission or to enhance national security, but as a “political payoff to a tiny, loud and wealthy part of the Democratic base.”

Democrats knew that the next Congress would not pass such legislation – “certainly not without a more thoughtful and deliberative process,” Perkins said.

The FRC thanked Republican Sens. John McCain, James Inhofe, Jeff Sessions and Jim DeMint and others who voted to “support our troops over advancing a liberal social agenda.”

Planning will proceed ‘immediately’

Defense Secretary Robert Gates welcomed the vote and said the Defense Department will “immediately proceed with the planning necessary” to carry out the change, once President Obama signs the bill into law.

Gates said the effort to change the military culture will be led by Dr. Clifford Stanley, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness who is a retired Marine Corps major general and infantry officer.

Gates said he will approach the certification process deliberately, engaging in “careful consultation” with the military service chiefs and combat commanders.

“It is therefore important that our men and women in uniform understand that while today’s historic vote means that this policy will change, the implementation and certification process will take an additional period of time.  In the meantime, the current law and policy will remain in effect,” Gates said.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was “pleased” with the vote to repeal the law banning homosexuals from openly serving in the military.

“[I]t is the right thing to do,” Mullen said. “No longer will able men and women who want to serve and sacrifice for their country have to sacrifice their integrity to do so. We will be a better military as a result.”

Mullen said he is committed to ensuring that the process of implementing the new law “is well-led, maintains our combat readiness and upholds our high standards."