SACRAMENTO, CA - Gay and lesbian rights advocates in Sacramento expressed hope for a brighter future for homosexual soldiers Thursday after the House of Representatives voted to repeal the 1993 law known as "don't ask, don't tell" and allow gays to serve openly in the military.
The House vote Thursday came several hours after the Senate Armed Services Committee took the same course and approved a measure repealing the policy that prohibits service by gays who openly acknowledge their sexual orientation.
For former Air Force member Tyson Redhouse of Antelope, the "don't ask, don't tell" law prompted him to leave the military in 2006 after eight years of service.
"I would have been happy to have stayed in and retired eventually," said Rehouse, who joined the Air Force after graduating high school. "But I didn't want to do that, I didn't want to hide who I am."
Redhouse believes the vote by the House of Representatives is a good step for current and former gay service members, but that it's still only a small part of a much larger picture.
"It's a start," Redhouse said. "It's definitely a start, and it's important that we look at each step in this process as an accomplishment, no matter how small, no matter how delayed."
The House vote was a victory for President Barack Obama, who has pushed for a change in military policy, and for gay rights group who have made an end to "don't ask, don't tell" their top legislative priority.
Republicans voted overwhelmingly against lifting the ban, saying Congress should wait until the Pentagon completes a review of the impact of a repeal on military life and readiness.
The vote moves to the Senate, where GOP lawmakers were expected to launch a heated effort to defeat the bill.
News10/KXTV and The Associated Press