The repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has passed the U.S. House of Representatives. Gay folk are one step closer to being able to serve their country in the military openly.
Minnesota Democrats Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, Jim Oberstar and Tim Walz sided with the president and the secretary of defense on the measure, helping to propel the bill to passage, 250-175.[jump]
Minnesota Republicans Michele Bachmann, John Kline and Erik Paulsen were joined by Democrat Collin Peterson in voting against the bill.
Walz is the most senior enlisted military man in the House. Watch him on the House floor:
Here's a transcript of his prepared remarks:
Thank you Mr./Madam Speaker.
The greatest privilege I have had in my life was serving this country in uniform for 24 years.
In the Minnesota National Guard, I had the honor of training soldiers from all walks of life. At the end of the day, I only cared about whether they could meet our rigorous training standards regardless of their sexual orientation, their race or their background.
I know how important it is to fill our military with qualified, professional and motivated volunteers. We are blessed in this nation to have so many exceptional young people signing up to serve in record numbers.
I have no doubt the brave men and women who serve our country have the professionalism to end this discriminatory policy. Frankly, I am offended by the notion that they may not be able to handle a change in policy.
These men and women make up the best fighting force in the history of the world. They accept and complete missions every single day that require unimaginable bravery.
In fact, these brave men and women have told us themselves they believe ending this discriminatory policy will not have a detrimental effect on the military or their mission in the DOD survey they completed this year.
This discriminatory policy is hurting our military readiness by removing service members we need to help us carry out missions around the world
Serving in the military, we were taught honor, honesty and integrity. Asking our soldiers to lie about who they are in order to serve is not consistent with those values.
It's time we honor the sacrifices of these service members by letting them serve a country they love without fear. The time is now to honor all service members by allowing them to selflessly serve this nation and protect our people and our interests.
Soldiers know it is time to end this policy, the American people know it is time to end this policy.
Let's vote to end it today.
The bill now goes to the Senate where there are enough Republicans on board with the measure to squelch an attempted GOP filibuster. Both Minnesota senators, Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, are expected to vote for the repeal.