House votes to repeal 'don't ask, don't tell'

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Activists hold signs as they shout slogans during a rally on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 10, 2010. Servicemembers Legal Defense Network held the rally to call on the Senate to pass the National Defense Authorization Bill that includes the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' which prohibits gay people from serving openly in the military. The House voted 250 to 175 on Dec. 15 2010 to repeal the DADT policy.

By a 250 to 175 vote, the US House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The bill now goes to the Senate where its passage is less certain.

Most House Democrats, such as Rep. John Garamendi from the Bay area, voted to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Garamendi considers the policy that prevents openly gay soldiers from serving in the armed forces “discriminatory." He says it deprives the military “of quality people.”

Garamendi says, "there’s clear proof over and over again that your sexual orientation has little to do with your ability to perform in any job and particularly in a military job."

But Republican Rep. Buck McKeon of Santa Clarita voted “no.” He echoed military leaders who say repealing the policy now could distract soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The incoming head of the House Armed Services Committee says the vote result doesn’t surprise him.

"What does surprise me is how people think that they know more than the generals that say we shouldn’t take the risk," he says.

McKeon says he hopes the Senate “has a little more sense” when it takes up the vote this week or next.

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