Following a Republican unanimous vote to block debate over repealing "don't ask, don't tell," Senator Al Franken (D-MN) choked up during a speech in which he recalled his trips to entertain troops and expressed bewilderment over a policy that discriminates against gay members of the military:
From Senator Franken's complete statement:
All gay and lesbian service members want is to be able to serve. Instead, people are getting kicked out of the military - people who don't need any kind of conduct waiver, people who don't need standards lowered for them in order to serve. People who are patriotic and courageous, and who have vital, irreplaceable skills.
What's more, the evidence is clear from other countries that have allowed gay and lesbian citizens to serve openly in their militaries. That evidence says that this will not be a problem. Ask the Israelis. Ask the Canadians. Ask the British. They've all successfully implemented open service.
But it's not only that the military is ready for this change. Don't Ask Don't Tell is costly for our military. Thousands of willing and capable Americans with needed skills have been kicked out of the military because of this foolish policy and this policy alone. These are soldiers and airmen and sailors who we've invested time and training in. We really can't afford to lose dedicated personnel with critical skills when we're engaged in two wars.
..."Don't Ask Don't Tell" makes no sense. It's foolish, it's unjust, and we must end it. The country is ready, the military is ready, and it's the right thing to do. I urge all of my colleagues to stand for equality and common sense, and to stand up for our troops. It's long past time to end Don't Ask Don't Tell. We will be proud that we did.