“‘Don’t cry,’ a 21-year-old specialist, one of the lieutenant’s confidants, told his boss jokingly when news broke that 65 senators had voted to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’
“‘I’m completely numb,’ was all the lieutenant could mutter.
“Across the world, other gay troops whose lives, careers and relationships have been indelibly, if sometimes quietly, shaped by the ban, reacted to the news with a mixture of rapture and disbelief…
“‘The majority of younger, rank-and-file guys will be fine with it,’ said Marine Capt. Tom Garnett, who is straight and a reservist at a Virginia law school. ‘But we are a conservative service, and one angry Marine makes a lot more noise than 30 ambivalent Marines.'”
“Jonathan Martin notes a remarkable statement from Richard Burr:
“‘Given the generational transition that has taken place in our nation, I feel that this policy is outdated and repeal is inevitable. However, I remain convinced that the timing of this change is wrong, and making such a shift in policy at a time when we have troops deployed in active combat areas does not take into consideration the seriousness of the situation on the ground. But, the vote this morning to invoke cloture on this bill indicated that the broader Senate was prepared to move forward with a change, and despite my concerns over timing, my conclusion is that repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is the right thing to do.’
“If the Republican from North Carolina is talking like this, opposition to homosexuality has, in some broader sense, lost its political juice. That generational transition marks a shift away from the old political order of both social conservatism on issues of sexual morality and — on both sides, I think — activism around abortion.”
“‘I am very disappointed such a major policy change was jammed through the lame duck Congress without the ability to offer one single amendment,’ said Graham. ‘Apparently, the concerns of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, who indicated repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ under these conditions would affect battlefield preparedness potentially leading to increased risk of casualties, were ignored.’…
“‘Our nation continues to be involved in two armed conflicts which have taken a heavy toll on our military,’ Graham said. ‘To ask our armed forces and their families to absorb these changes in the middle of two major conflicts is both unfair and unwise.'”
“‘The military is the most trusted institution in American life,’ said David Frum, a speechwiter for President George W. Bush. ‘This vote means there will now be a large public population of openly gay veterans, gay combat veterans and decorated gay soldiers and officers, sailors, airmen and marines. That presence is going to be a very large fact on the ground…. People who want to wage cultural wars ought to keep in mind that cultural views often don’t move at all for a very long time, but when they move they can move very fast.’
“Gay activists said they expected implementation of the law to be relatively painless, as other countries have experienced. And, they said, ‘don’t ask’ repeal could set in motion future gay rights victories, including establishing rights to same-sex marriage.
“‘I think any legislative victory in the direction of social change and equality lays down a foundation for the next one,’ said Solmonese.”
“No longer will able men and women who want to serve and sacrifice for their country have to sacrifice their integrity to do so. We will be a better military as a result.”