Wednesday, December 22, 2010

President Obama Signs "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Repeal

President Obama signed into law today a bill repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the policy that forbids gay people from serving openly in the military. The bill had previously been passed by overwhelming and bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate.

Onstage with Obama at the signing were such repeal leaders as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.), Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), Senators Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen.

Before signing the bill, Obama gave a stirring speech about repeal. Here is some of that speech:

This is a good day. I am just overwhelmed; this is a very good day. I want to thank all of you, especially the people on this stage, but each and every one of you who has been working so hard on this – I couldn’t be more proud of you. This morning I am proud to sign a law that will bring an end to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ It is a law that will strengthen our national security and uphold the ideals that our fighting men and women risk their lives to defend. No longer will our country be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans who were forced to leave the military because they happen to be gay. No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love. As Admiral Mike Mullen has said, our people sacrifice a lot for their country, including their lives: none of them should have to sacrifice their integrity as well. That’s why I believe this is the right thing to do for our military, that’s why I believe it is the right thing to do, period.

I want to thank the Democrats and Republicans who put conviction ahead of politics to get this done together. I want to recognize Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and Harry Reid. Today we’re marking a historic milestone, but also the culmination of two productive years of Congress. I want to thank Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins and I think Carl Levin’s still working, but I want to add Carl Levin. They held their shoulders to the wheel in the Senate. I’m so proud of Susan Davis and a guy you might know – Barney Frank. They kept up the fight in the House. And I gotta acknowledge Patrick Murphy, a veteran himself. I also want to commend our military leadership. Ending 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was a topic at my first meeting with Secretary Robert Gates, Admiral Mike Mullen, and the Joint Chiefs. And finally, I want to express my gratitude to the men and women in this room who have worn the uniform of the United States service.

In the coming days, we will begin the process laid out by this law. I have spoken to every one of the military service chiefs, and they are all committed to implementing this repeal swiftly and efficiently – we are not gonna be dragging our feet with this one. With any change, there is some apprehension – that’s natural. But as Commander in Chief, I am certain that we can affect this transition that only strengthens our military readiness. I have every confidence in the professionalism and patriotism of our servicemembers.

I want to speak directly to the gay men and women currently serving in our military. For a long time, your service has demanded a particular kind of sacrifice. You’ve been asked to carry the additional burden of secrecy. You’re not the first to have carried this burden. And while today marks the end of a particular struggle, this is a moment more than two centuries in the making.  There can be little doubt there were gay soldiers who fought for American independence, who consecrated the ground at Gettysburg, who stormed the beaches of Iwo Jima; their names are etched into the walls of our memorials, their headtones dot the grounds at Arlington.  As the first generation to serve openly in our armed forces, you will stand for all those who came before you; you will serve as role models for all those who come after you.  I know you will fulfill this responsibility with integrity and honor.

We are not a nation that says don't ask, don't tell.  We are a nation that says out of many, we are one.  We are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot, that believes that all men and women are created equally.  Those are the ideals that generation after generation has fought for.  Those are the ideals that we uphold today, and now it is my honor to sign this bill into law."
While repeal has been signed into law, it has not yet been implemented: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will remain into effect until Obama, Gates, and Mullen sign off on the implementation plan, and until repeal is actually implemented after that.

Please call the White House Comment Line and tell them you want President Obama to sign off on repeal ASAP, and to tell Gates and Mullen to do the same as well.

White House Comment Line: 202-456-1111

No comments:

Post a Comment