Lt. Dan Choi

The US House of Representatives voted 234 to 194 on Thursday to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), but critics say the move is not enough.

The compromise amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) will actually only effectively repeal DADT 60 days after the Pentagon completes a study on how best to roll back the law, which is only due to be completed on the 1st of December.

The Senate Armed Services Committee also voted 16-12 to repeal the 17 year old policy which has seen openly gay and lesbian personnel barred from serving in the military.

“This legislation will help make our Armed Forces even stronger and more inclusive by allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve honestly and with integrity,” said President Obama – who had promised to repeal DADT before the end of the year.

While most LGBT organisations and activists hailed the vote as a historic one, some criticised the compromise legislation and the delay involved in the repeal.

Lt. Dan Choi, who has become a vocal activist on the issue after he was recommended for discharge for being gay, said in Newsweek that the amendment was no cause for celebration.

“This compromise isn’t what I, or any of my fellow advocates, wanted or expected. The compromise does not end the firings. Nor does it restore our integrity. It is the result of a White House that has been AWOL on “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal for the last year and a half, and now is desperately trying to find a solution – any solution, regardless of how unworkable – to a problem and a promise it would rather just go away,” he said.

Choi, along with Capt. James Pietrangelo, also announced that he would embark on a hunger strike until three demands are met: the Pentagon’s review of DADT be ended; discharges under DADT be immediately stopped; and a non-discrimination policy be adopted by the military.

“It was never going to be easy to dismantle the gay ban, but the White House and Congressional leadership have launched a process that will do just that,” commented Aaron Belkin Director of the Palm Center.

“For seventeen years, taxpayer money has gone to fire Arabic linguists, doctors and mission critical specialists in every field and every service because they are gay, lesbian or bisexual. Today, the House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee have said that prejudice cannot be more important than national security. Keeping good troops is good policy.”

The final NDAA bill must still be passed in both the House and Senate and the two versions reconciled before being sent to the President for his signature.

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