UPDATE: Added video of Congresswoman Susan Davis speaking on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) – thanks to Louise for finding it.
My congresswoman, Susan Davis (Dem, CA-53), led floor debate on H.R. 2965, the bill to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The bill passed with a vote of 250-175.
Here is her prepard speech for the floor of the House of Representatives:
M. Speaker, I rise in support of repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’
Regardless of what critics say, the issue before us has been debated in Congress and reviewed by the Department of Defense.
In fact, Members of the House have debated repeal for some time. My subcommittee held hearings on the issue, the first on July 23, 2008, and the second on March 3, 2010.
Every Member of this body was welcome to attend, though few Republicans made the effort to be there.
For those of you who weren’t available, the takeaway from these hearings was that the current policy is bad for our Armed Forces and inconsistent with American values.
Next, this House approved language identical to what is before us today, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.
Finally, the DOD completed its study on implementing repeal, which confirms our troops are ready.
70 percent of the force and 74 percent of their spouses said that repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will have a positive, mixed or no effect on our military.
And over 80 percent of our warriors on the front lines who believe they’ve served with a gay service member in the past said their unit’s ability to work together was “very good”…
In short, service members and their spouses have essentially the same view as the American public – men and women in uniform who are gay should be allowed to serve openly.
And our top civilian and military officials agree.
Secretary of Defense Gates says that with careful preparation, repeal poses low risk to the readiness and effectiveness of our forces. Admiral Mullen shares that view.
Now, it’s true that the military service chiefs have reservations about the timing of repeal…
…but they ultimately acknowledge that leadership at all levels will be key.
I have great confidence in the leaders who are serving in our military and in their professionalism.
After all, we trust them with decisions about our nation’s safety, we can trust them to put this transition into practice.
However, they cannot begin to meet this new challenge until we repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’
Madam Speaker, change is never easy, but it is rarely as necessary as it is today.
There’s more to this issue than statistics and surveys…at the heart of it is the right of all Americans to serve their country without having to hide who they are.
In the words of one gay service member, repeal would simply “Take a knife out of my back….you have no idea what it is like to have to serve in silence.”
Gay men and women want to serve and have a right to serve.
It’s time to stop all the ‘don’ts’ about repeal and just do it…
Because what we’ve known all along is that gay and lesbian personnel have the same values toward their service as service members at large – love of their country, honor, respect, integrity, and service over self.
If we miss this opportunity to repeal this law, history will judge us poorly for the damage we have done to our nation and our military.
I urge Members of this House to be on the right side of history and help end ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’