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|'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal finally certified; 60 days until law is officially gone|
|by Laura Douglas-Brown|
|July 22, 2011 15:14|
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the policy that ended the military careers of more than 14,000 lesbians and gay men, moved a step closer to the rubbish bins of history Friday as President Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, formally certified its repeal.
Congress voted to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and Obama signed the bill into law in December 2010. But the legislation required Obama, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff to certify to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees that the military was ready to implement the repeal.
That certification came today, starting a final 60-day countdown to repeal that was also specified in the legislation. Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a nonprofit that lobbied for repeal and aids those impacted by the policy, said he received a call from the White House on Friday afternoon letting him know the certification had been issued.
“The final countdown to repeal begins today. Service members celebrate this historic announcement, and they are ready for this change," said Sarvis, an Army veteran, in a press release this afternoon.
"Our nation’s top military leaders have testified that commanders see no significant challenges ahead, and now the President, Secretary Panetta, and Chairman Mullen have certified to Congress that the armed forces are prepared for the end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” Sarvis said.
Sarvis said SLDN calls on President Obama to issue an executive order for the military barring discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“The work of advancing military equality marches forward after repeal. At SLDN, we will represent and defend those who may face harassment or discrimination as we oversee implementation; when necessary and timely, litigate in the courts to bring about full LGBT equality in America’s military; advocate for legally married service members to receive the same benefits as their straight counterparts; and assist veterans to correct or upgrade their discharge paperwork,” Sarvis said.
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was passed by Congress in 1993 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. More than 14,500 lesbian and gay service members have been discharged under the law.
The Pentagon has said that those discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will be able to reapply after the repeal is final, though they must still meet enlistment requirements, the military newspaper Stars & Stripes reported.
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