In a 234 – 194 vote late Thursday night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $700 billionÂ defense department spending authorization bill which includes a provisionÂ for repeal of the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military. The approval, followed inclusion of the same provision in the Senate version of the bill by the Senate Armed Services Committee. The fight now moves on to the full Senate.
Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez was the lone member of the Orange County delegation to vote in favor of the repeal. Sanchez has previously called for the repeal and is quoted in the Orange County Register saying;
â€œI think it just will realign our military with the other military allies that we have who already have openly gay people serving.â€™â€™Â She said she has spoken with American service members who serve with NATO forces from other countries who ask them why the U.S. still has this policy. And Sanchez said she agrees with Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who has said people serving in the U.S. military shouldnâ€™t have to lie about who they are.
In a statement after the House vote, Obama hailed the day’s congressional action as “important bipartisan steps toward repeal.”
“This legislation will help make our armed forces even stronger and more inclusive by allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve honestly and with integrity,” Obama said.
The bill faces a tough road ahead as Arizona Senator John McCain has threatened to lead a filibuster of the provision in the Senate. At the moment it is unclear if he actually has the votes to pull that off but an attempt is certainly likely. The senate is expected to address the legislation next month.