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|Obama signs 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal into law|
|by Ryan Watkins|
|December 22, 2010 10:06|
Activists hailed President Barack Obama today for signing into law the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010. The measure will overturn the military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers.
The repeal came after a contentious fight in the Senate that saw delay, Republican filibustering and last-minute compromise. After failing to move the 2011 Defense Authorization Bill forward with repeal language attached, Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Ct.) and Susan Collins (R-Me.) brought forward a stand-alone piece of legislation that successfully moved past GOP resistance over the weekend.
"By ending 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay,” Obama said over the weekend, according to C-SPAN.
“And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love. It is time to close this chapter in our history. It is time to recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender, religion or creed."
Activists praised Obama for fulfilling a 2008 campaign promise.
“In signing this bill today, President Obama delivered on a defining civil rights measure for our country and for gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members who have been silenced for far too long. Clearly, this is President Obama’s Lyndon Johnson moment in history. A measure of dignity has been restored to thousands of service members on active duty, and to over a million gay veterans who served in silence. This historic moment is about those service members and their service,” said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.
Sarvis also called on Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to use his authority to suspend current investigations and discharges until the ban is officially lifted.
Before the ban is lifted, the president, Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen must certify that the military would not suffer any adverse effects from the policy shift. It is unknown how long the certification process will take. There is also a mandatory 60-day waiting period after certification before the policy is lifted.
Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
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