In a news conference in Syracuse, N.Y. on Tuesday, June 30, 2009, Lt. Dan Choi, left, who has publicly announced he's gay, vows to fight a military administrative board's recommendation that he be discharged from the the New York National Guard for violating the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. At right is Maj. Roy Diehl, who represented Choi. The recommendation must be approved by the First Army commander and the chief of the National Guard Bureau before Choi is discharged. (AP Photo/Pool, Gloria Wright)
And San Francisco's Nancy Pelosi, outgoing House speaker, was excited about getting the bill moved over to the Senate successfully.
"It's a very proud day for this Congress when we are fighting discrimination and have the power to do so," said Pelosi.
“All this back-and-forth between the House and Senate makes a gay man seem prude,” Rick Donovan, a resident of San Francisco and adult film star, told Politically Illustrated. “Eventually a bill has to lay on the desk of Obama.”
The 90's-era ban on gay soldiers has been a sore point for years. Obama promised that it would be overturned during his term, but that pledge seemed jeopardized by the November election, which saw victories for several conservative legislators.
For months, Congress has struggled to pass a defense bill that included a repeal of the ban. When that failed earlier this month, legislators proposed a stand-alone bill, and yesterday the house approved that measure.
There's not much time left. The bill now moves to the Senate, which already has a full agenda before it permanently adjourns in just a few days.
A survey this week showed that around 80% of Americans favor allowing gay soldiers to serve openly. Senator John McCain favored keeping the ban, calling the honest service of soldiers "a major cultural change."
The head of the Marine Corps, Commandant General James Amos, drew criticism this week by stating that overturning the ban could result in amputations. He said that allowing gay soliders to talk about their partners would case "distractions," and that he feared visiting wounded, legless soldiers as a result.
A recent study showed that among Marines who know of a gay colleague in their unit, 90% said that the unit functions effectively.