Rep. Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.) got a deserved call from President Obama to congratulate him for his role in the successful repeal of the U.S. military's antigay ban.
Murphy, an Iraq war veteran who was defeated in the midterm elections, sponsored the House version of the bill that unexpectedly won Senate approval Saturday. Murphy spent Friday helping Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I., Conn.) round up votes in the upper chamber. "We didn't give up," Murphy said. "We didn't stop fighting."
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also deserve credit for ending the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Mullen's thoughtful congressional testimony was important when other top brass were digging in their heels against change.
The naysayers refused to put down their prejudice to accept the perspective of Murphy and others who believe sexual orientation isn't an issue in combat. "The men I served with didn't care who you were writing home to; they cared how you handled your assault rifle," said Murphy.
The lame-duck session of Congress was probably the last chance to repeal the 1993 policy, with the Republicans increasing their numbers next year.
Perhaps a medal for bipartisanship should be awarded to the eight Republican senators who withstood party pressure and voted for repeal: Susan Collins of Maine, Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts, Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, John Ensign of Nevada, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, and George V. Voinovich of Ohio.
President Obama is expected to sign the repeal this week, finally fulfilling a campaign pledge to gay-rights advocates.
In the meantime, efforts should be made to restore to service any of the more than 13,000 troops dismissed under "don't ask, don't tell" who still want to be soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines.
Not only are some high-ranking officers included among the lists of those who have been dismissed, but also Arabic translators and interpreters, the very experts vitally needed in the fight against terrorism.
It will take weeks for the repeal to become effective. The bill requires the defense secretary to make sure the repeal is "consistent with military standards for readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention." That mission is possible. The days of living a lie in the military are about over, when it comes to sexual orientation.