“I’ve got some wonderful news!” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand wrote in an email to supporters this afternoon, explaining that the Senate had just voted 65 to 31 to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
The email landed in inboxes just a few minutes after the approval vote, which had been widely expected after the measure cleared the 60-vote hurdle needed for cloture just before noon today. Six Republicans voted for cloture, and two more joined in the final vote.
“What a great feeling it is to know that you’ve accomplished a goal that will literally change the lives of thousands of people,” wrote Gillibrand in the email.
The junior senator had been pushing for repeal since a meeting with Lieutenant Dan Choi in 2009, a few months after her appointment to the Senate. Gillibrand pressed Armed Services chairman Carl Levin for a hearing on the matter, and Levin eventually agreed. At that hearing, some top military brass testified that they favored repealing the law, rather than risk a court decision overturning it.
Her aggressive push to repeal the policy helped Gillibrand to win over some critics in the gay community, who had been concerned when the upstate congresswoman was appointed to the Senate.
The resolution passed the House as a standalone measure last week, after it failed to make it through the Senate as part of a defense authorization bill. It now heads to the desk of President Obama, who campaigned on repealing the measure.
Here’s the full email from Senator Gillibrand:
I’ve got some wonderful news! The Senate has just voted to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Finally, we have overturned the ban on openly gay men and women serving in our military. Not only does DADT prevent our brave LGBT servicemen and women from serving their country freely and truthfully, but it poses a threat to the readiness of our armed forces and stands in direct opposition to the equality and fairness that America stands for.
It’s been a long, hard road, and I couldn’t have done it without your support. Yes, I’ve always known that the American people are overwhelmingly in favor of repeal. But you’ve given me what no poll ever could – the inspiration and encouragement to keep pressing on.
What a great feeling it is to know that you’ve accomplished a goal that will literally change the lives of thousands of people. But we’re not done yet.
The Senate still has some very important business to finish before we adjourn for the year. Next week, I’m aiming for a Christmas miracle to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act so we can finally fulfill the moral obligation we have to our 9/11 heroes and provide them with the health care they need.
Whether I’m fighting for gay and lesbian servicemembers or for our 9/11 heroes, I can’t tell you how much it means to have you by my side.
As we approach the final days of this Congress, I’ll be in touch to update you on our ongoing progress.
All the best,