ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Saturday was a historic day for the gay community as the U.S. Senate repealed the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy after 17 years.
Both of Alaska's U.S. Senators, Mark Begich (D) and Lisa Murkowski (R), say Americans should be able to serve in the military regardless of their sexual orientation. Both voted to repeal “Don't Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Their votes helped push the repeal through the Senate by a 65-to-31 vote.
The policy won't be lifted immediately, but when it is, gays and lesbians will be able to openly serve in the military without fear of being kicked out because of their sexual orientation.
Begich says the policy of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” is harmful and outdated and Americans should be able to serve their country regardless of sexual orientation.
Murkowski said gays have been serving in the military for years and it's time that they be allowed to do it openly.
Local gay rights advocates applaud the Senators' votes.
“I think it's a big day for Alaska, definitely for our military here. There are plenty of gay military here in Alaska and in Anchorage... So yes today is a big day for Alaska, but it is also for the entire country and the entire military force,” said Jonathan Jones, Identity Inc. board member.
Congressman Don Young voted against repealing the ban earlier this month.
Young says he believes that “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” is a decision that should be made by the military, not congress.
In the Senate, Sen. John McCain led the opposition.
McCain blamed elite liberals with no military experience for pushing their agenda on troops during wartime.
Critics say repealing the policy will come at great cost to the troops.
“They have a different view. They have a view that this is about effectiveness on the battlefield in a time of war, not civil rights,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham(R-SC).
The bill will now go to President Obama's desk. He's expected to sign it into law next week.