President Obama this morning signed the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. But if you indulge me for a minute, I'd like to quote Vice President Biden, who I think summed it up so well:
It certainly could not have been done without the steady, dedicated, and persistent leadership of the President of the United States. Mr. President, by signing this bill, you will be linking military might with an abiding sense of justice, you'll be projecting power by promoting fairness, and making the United States military as strong as it can be at a time we needed to be the strongest.In other words, BFD!!! Amen, Mr. Vice President. And now, without further delay, I give you the signing ceremony (pay attention the jubilation in the assembled crowd).
It's done. America gets one step closer to justice today: thanks to countless people, activists, veterans, legislative staff, legislators, an indomitable Speaker of the House and an unwavering leader of the Senate (and Sen. Lieberman and Rep. Patrick Murphy), and of course an incredible President of the United States. In the President's words:
I say to all Americans, gay or straight, who want nothing more than to defend this country in uniform, your country needs you, your country wants you, and we will be honored to welcome you into the ranks of the finest military the world has ever knownThe President also committed to implement the change "swiftly and efficiently." Thank you, Mr. President. We salute those who serve our country - all of them, no matter their sexual orientation, gender or gender identity, race, economic background or anything else - and we salute you, Sir.
In other news, the new START treaty is poised to be voted on and likely ratified in the Senate today (even though they seem to have the votes, please call your Senators and urge ratification). The Senate voted on cloture yesterday, a vote that is being seen as a proxy vote for the treaty, by a 67-28 margin, including 11 Republicans.
When START passes, this President will have wrapped up an impressive session of the lame duck Congress.
One last thing: the 9/11 First Responders' health care bill: Republicans in the Senate are finding themselves increasingly isolated to try to oppose the First responders, and we need to keep up the pressure. Let's keep up the pressure and make sure this too gets done before Congress adjourns for the session.
Update @12:45 Pacific: START has been ratified by the Senate in a 71-26 vote, and the Senate has reached a deal on the 9/11 First Responders' health care bill, although cutting the price tag by over $2 billion to a $4.2 billion bill.