On Wednesday morning President Obama signed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010. The highly emotional signing ceremony repeals the 1993 law that prevented openly LGBT people from serving in the U.S. military.
The signing ceremony included remarks by Vice President Joe Biden who introduced President Obama. Attendees included military leaders and Democratic and Republican lawmakers. Also in attendance was independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who was a key sponsor of the legislation. At the ceremony held at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was given a standing ovation.
President Obama spoke directly to gay men and women who are currently serving in the U.S. military. ” For a long time your service has demanded a particular kind of sacrifice. You’ve been asked to carry the added burden of secrecy and isolation and all the while you’ve put your lives on the line for the freedom and privileges of citizenship that are not fully granted to you.”
Amid strong applause and cheering, President Obama said it was his “…honor to sign this bill into law.”
The political battle to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was hard-fought. As one of his campaign promises, the President promised to repeal the law. LGBT advocates felt the repeal was slow in coming and were angered at the President and Congress when the repeal was defeated in the Senate earlier this month.
Across the U.S., volunteers for President Obama’s grassroots team, Organizing for America, phone banked in an effort to end the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Los Angeles area Valley for Obama volunteers phone banked tirelessly for weeks to encourage voters to call their representatives in Congress and ask them to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
On Saturday the Senate repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in a filibuster proof vote of 65 to 31. The historic repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell had bipartisan support. The bill was passed by the House earlier in the week.
Politico reports that just hours before the signing ceremony, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to introduce an amendment that would block the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Senator Joe Lieberman objected to the amendment.
Before it is implemented, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 must be certified by President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mullen, who all support the repeal. The certification will state that allowing openly LGBT members to serve in the U.S. military will not harm military readiness. The certification process may take several months.