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President Obama Signs DADT Repeal Bill

On the morning of December 22, at the Department of the Interior, in Washington , D.C. , President Barack Obama signed into law the bill that repeals “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” allowing openly gay and lesbian service people to serve in the military. The President recounted the story of a gay soldier, who risked his own life to save a fellow serviceman, during World War Two, and said, “No longer will our country be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans who were forced to leave the military—regardless of their skills, no matter their bravery or their zeal, no matter their years of exemplary service—because they happen to be gay. No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a live, or look over their shoulder, in order to serve the country that they love.”

The Human Rights Campaign recently detailed the full process the bill must go through before it becomes law: “First, the President must sign the legislation passed by Congress. Second, according to the legislation, the President must transmit a written certification to the House and Senate Armed Services Committee signed by the President, Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certifying that: (1) all signatories have considered the recommendations contained in the Pentagon Working Group report; (2) the Department of Defense has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to implement repeal; and (3) the policies and regulations implementing repeal are consistent with military standards for readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention. Third, 60 days must elapse after the President delivers the written certification before DADT is repealed once and for all.”

The full transcript of Vice-President Joseph Biden and President Barack Obama’s remarks at the signing follows:

9:10 A.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hey, folks, how are you? (Applause.) It’s a good day. (Applause.) It’s a real good day. As some of my colleagues can tell you, this is a long time in coming. But I am happy it’s here.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. Please be seated.
It was a great five-star general and President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who once said, “Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness and consideration, and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace.”
By repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" today, we take a big step toward fostering justice, fairness and consideration, and that real cooperation President Eisenhower spoke of.
This fulfills an important campaign promise the President and I made, and many here on this stage made, and many of you have fought for, for a long time, in repealing a policy that actually weakens our national security, diminished our ability to have military readiness, and violates the fundamental American principle of fairness and equality -- that exact same set of principles that brave gay men and women will now be able to openly defend around the world. (Applause.)
It is both morally and militarily simply the right thing to do. And it’s particularly important that this result was fully supported by those within the military who are charged with implementing it. And I want to pay particular respect, just as a personal note -- as we used to say, I used to be allowed to say in the Senate, a point of personal privilege -- Admiral Mullen, you're a stand-up guy. (Applause.) I think they like you. (Applause.)
He already has enough power. Don't -- (laughter.)
And it couldn't have been done without these men and women leading our military. And certainly it could not have been done without the steady, dedicated and persistent leadership of the President of the United States . (Applause.)
Mr. President, by signing this bill, you will be linking military might with an abiding sense of justice. You’ll be projecting power by promoting fairness, and making the United States military as strong as they can be at a time we need it to be the strongest.
Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States of America , the Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Yes, we did! Yes, we did! Yes, we did!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you! Yes, we did.


‘DADT’ Repeal Passes House in December 15 Vote, Bill Still Faces Senate Hurdles—President Obama Issues Statement Applauding House Action

By Bruce-Michael Gelbert,


On December 15, the House of Representatives again voted in favor of repeal of the law known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), which has kept LGBT service people, who are honest and open about their sexual orientation, from serving in the armed forces.  The vote was 250 to 175, with 15 Republicans favoring repeal.  In a House vote this past May, the numbers were 234 to 194.  The bill still faces serious hurdles in the Senate.  Citing two key Senate opponents’ “obstructionism,” Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) Executive Director and US Army veteran Aubrey Sarvis noted, “We cannot underestimate [S]enators John McCain (Republican, Arizona) and Mitch McConnell (Republican, Kentucky), who will do everything they can to kill repeal.  We need to fight back on any amendments, which would change the bill language and cause further delay.”

Shortly after the evening vote in the House, Campaign Courage, based in California, released a statement from Representative Patrick Murphy (Democrat, Pennsylvania)—who served as Captain in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division in the Iraqi War—saying, in part, “I just walked off the House floor, where I saw passage of my amendment—co-sponsored with [Majority] Leader [Steny] Hoyer [Democrat, Maryland]—to begin repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’  It was one of the proudest moments of my life … The time to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ has come.  It has come for the House … [a]nd … it will come for the Senate.  Sen[ator]s [Joseph] Lieberman [Independent, Connecticut ] and [Susan M.] Collins [Republican, Maine ], along with their allies Sen[ator]s [Tom] Udall [Democrat, New Mexico ] and [Kirsten] Gillibrand [Democrat, New York ], have introduced a stand-alone bill that mirrors our amendment in the House.  But the calendar is tight and there aren’t many votes to spare.  Opponents of repeal are lining up to gut the bill by inserting poison pill amendments.  We can’t let that happen.”

President Barack Obama issued the following statement: “I applaud the House for passing, with bipartisan support, the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010.  Legislative repeal is supported by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The process contained in this legislation allows for a smooth and responsible repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in a way that maintains good order and discipline in our military ranks.   Indeed, all of the Service Chiefs have said that when this law is changed, they will implement an orderly transition effectively and efficiently.  As the comprehensive study by the Department of Defense clearly shows, we can move to a new policy in a responsible manner that ensures our military strength and our national security.  I particularly want to thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Congressman Patrick Murphy for their leadership on this issue.  I have consistently called for the repeal of this law.  Moving forward with the repeal is not only the right thing to do, it will also give our military the clarity and certainty it deserves.  We must ensure that Americans who are willing to risk their lives for their country are treated fairly and equally by their country.”

SLDN Executive Director Sarvis said, “Now, we turn our attention back to the Senate.  We’ll still need 60 votes to complete the bill and send it directly to the President’s desk.”  Giving the Capitol switchboard telephone number, 202/224-3121, Sarvis added, “Calls to the following [S]enators are particularly needed.  Please call these key [S]enators now!” and issued the following list: Olympia Snowe (Republican, Maine) 202/224-5344, Richard Lugar (Republican, Indiana) 202/224-4814, Judd Gregg (Republican, New Hampshire) 202/224-3324, Scott Brown (Republican, Massachusetts) 202/224-4543, George Voinovich (Republican, Ohio) 202/224-3353, Kit Bond (Republican, Missouri) 202/224-5721, Lisa Murkowski (Republican, Alaska) 202/224-6665, Mark Kirk (Republican, Illinois) 202/224-2854, and Joe Manchin (Democrat, West Virginia) 202/224-3954.  SLDN offered this sample script for the phone calls: “Hello, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent from [city & state].  I’m calling to tell Senator ___ to stand with Majority Leader Reid, Chairman Levin and Senator Lieberman and vote for ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal.  Fight back against Senators John McCain and Mitch McConnell’s obstructionism and pass repeal this year.  Thank you.”




By Bruce-Michael Gelbert,