Washington, DC —
Illinois Congressman Mike Quigley urged House lawmakers Thursday to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the 1993 law that bans gay troops from serving openly.
"Our troops agree, out allies agree, and leaders of our nation agree – we must repeal this policy now," Quigley said on the House floor.
Quigley, an Illinois Democrat whose district includes portions of downtown Chicago, made his remarks as Congress prepares to vote out of committee next year's defense budget, long considered the best bet for repeal. But the White House and the Pentagon appear united in urging lawmakers to delay repeal until after the Pentagon completes an internal review of how best to implement changes should Congress repeal the law. The study – ordered by Defense Secretary Robert Gates – is due in December.
"The Secretary of Defense has asked Congress not to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' until the Pentagon has another year to review the policy," Quigley added. "With all due respect, we've been reviewing the policy since its implementation in 1993."
Quigley went on to say that waiting would add to the number of gay troops fired under the policy, reduce the ranks of mission-critical soldiers, and harm our national security.
"Another year will mean we will continue to allow young patriots to lose their lives for us, but not allow them to live the lives they choose."
"Dr. King wrote, 'The time is always right to do what is right.' Madam Speaker, that is why we can't wait," the congressman said.