(Photo: AP Images / Alex Brandon)
Christian groups praised the Senate vote on Tuesday that came four votes short of repealing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
"This is a victory for the men and women who serve our nation in uniform," said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. "At least for now they will not be used to advance a radical social agenda."
Legislation to eliminate the Clinton-era policy barring openly gay individuals from serving in the military was tacked on to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011. Republicans filibustered debate on the bill.
Democrats have vowed to try to pass the legislation later this year, following the fall elections.
Pop star Lady Gaga has waded into the debate. She expressed her opposition to the policy at a rally in Maine on Monday ahead of the Senate vote.
"I thought equality was non-negotiable," she proclaimed, as reported by Time magazine. "'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is wrong, it's unjust and fundamentally it is against all we stand for as Americans."
FRC's Perkins chided Democratic leadership for taking their cues from the pop sensation.
"It's a sad commentary on our Congressional leadership when they pay more attention to an entertainer with a flair for the bizarre than they do to the leaders of all four service branches," Perkins said.
Just before the vote, Gen. James Amos, incoming commandant of the Marine Corps, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he doesn't think lawmakers should repeal the policy.
Lifting the ban could disrupt cohesion during ongoing combat operations and affect morale, Amos said.
FRC and other conservative groups, including the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, have also made the case that repealing DADT would strain American forces, weaken troop morale, and compel countless chaplains to leave the services.
"We do not believe it is in our nation’s best interest to allow those who engage in homosexual behavior to serve in the military," said Dr. Richard Land, president of the ERLC, in a letter to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. "As stated in the findings of the law, passed with bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate and signed by President Clinton, there is no constitutional right to serve in the military."
"The admission of openly homosexual individuals into the military would engender sexual tension and thereby negatively impact troop morale, unit cohesion, and order," he further contended.
Conservative groups have also opposed a provision in the Defense Authorization bill that would allow elective abortions on military bases.
Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America, commented, "Senate Democrats tried to covertly hijack good legislation with provisions that are harmful to families and unborn children. The military is supposed to protect and defend, not take away lives of those most innocent. To permit military health facilities to perform abortions would have been an affront to the very mission of the organization."
She hailed Tuesday's vote as "a great victory for conservative values."