9-20-2011. Official repeal of the 1993 policy went into effect at 12:01 a.m. this morning. From this day forward, openly gay and lesbian soldiers can serve for the first time in the U.S. military.
“From this day forward, gay and lesbian Soldiers may serve in our Army with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh and Army officials wrote (see the letter above). “For over 236 years, the U.S. Army has been an extraordinary force for good in the world. Our Soldiers are the most agile, adaptable and capable warriors in history — and we are ready for this change.”
Pentagon press secretary George Little said Monday that the military is prepared for the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a practice adopted in 1993 that allowed gays to serve as long as they did not openly acknowledge their sexual orientation.
President Barack Obama signed the law last December and in July certified that lifting the ban will not diminish the military’s ability to fight.
In 2009, “on MSNBC’s Maddow Show, the fresh-faced Dan Choi made his debut on national television with three powerful words which he spoke while staring directly into the camera: “I am gay.”
That sentence, stated publicly, broke Army regulations and immediately put the decorated Iraq war veteran’s job on the line. They were just three words, but they sparked an international media firestorm, leading Choi — living with his parents at the time — to perform 18-hour days filled with interviews, appearances and lobbying. They also galvanized a movement that Tuesday ended with the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which like so many army regulations has its own acronym, DADT.” READ MORE HERE.
“I personally felt it was important to come out of the closet on Day 1 to show that sexual orientation in the military will truly be a non-issue. Overseas we have seen that some militaries still do not have people that feel comfortable coming out with their sexual orientation, even years after the policy has changed. I hope that by coming out, along with the other military members who chose to come out publicly in the pages of our magazine, help to show our military was ready for this change.”_Josh Seefried (JD Smith), a finance officer in the Air Force and 2009 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy.
“Thanks to the persistent hard work of unwavering advocates, especially those who have been directly impacted by this issue, and some courageous politicians over the past six years, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is now history. As a result, those who continue to serve can sleep easier tonight knowing that they can no longer be arbitrarily fired because of their sexual orientation. Justice has prevailed and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is dead. God bless America.”_Service members United executive director Alex Nicholson.
“Our work is far from done, but today we pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of our patriots as we look forward to a new era of military service – one that honors the contributions of all qualified Americans who have served or who wish to serve.”_SLDN executive director Aubrey Sarvis.
The White House on Tuesday issued the following statement from President Barack Obama.
“Today, the discriminatory law known as ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is finally and formally repealed. As of today, patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love. As of today, our armed forces will no longer lose the extraordinary skills and combat experience of so many gay and lesbian service members. And today, as Commander in Chief, I want those who were discharged under this law to know that your country deeply values your service.
“I was proud to sign the Repeal Act into law last December because I knew that it would enhance our national security, increase our military readiness, and bring us closer to the principles of equality and fairness that define us as Americans. Today’s achievement is a tribute to all the patriots who fought and marched for change; to Members of Congress, from both parties, who voted for repeal; to our civilian and military leaders who ensured a smooth transition; and to the professionalism of our men and women in uniform who showed that they were ready to move forward together, as one team, to meet the missions we ask of them.
“For more than two centuries, we have worked to extend America’s promise to all our citizens. Our armed forces have been both a mirror and a catalyst of that progress, and our troops, including gays and lesbians, have given their lives to defend the freedoms and liberties that we cherish as Americans. Today, every American can be proud that we have taken another great step toward keeping our military the finest in the world and toward fulfilling our nation’s founding ideals.”