Originally Posted by rearnakedchoke
Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama brought the long political struggle over the military's controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy to a close Wednesday, signing legislation that will bring an end of the ban on openly gay men and women serving in the armed forces.
The president signed the bill repealing the 17-year-old law in front an jubilant crowd of supporters at the Department of Interior. Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, were among those in attendance.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen also was present for the occasion.
The repeal "will strengthen our national security and uphold (America's) ideals," Obama said. "No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie."
"I believe this is the right thing to do for our military," he added. "It's the right thing to do, period."
This is a moment "more than two centuries in the making," the president said. Over the course of U.S. history, "gay Americans fought just as hard (and) gave just as much to protect" the country as anyone else. "We are a nation that believes all men and women are created equal."
Passage of the repeal was a major political victory for Obama and congressional Democrats. Obama promised to repeal the ban during the 2008 presidential election.
The crowd chanted "Yes we can" as Obama was introduced before the bill signing -- a reference to Obama's campaign slogan.
Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, an openly gay Democrat, called the bill's passage "the biggest single thing" in terms of the progress of gay rights in the United States.
"To see the president today put ink to paper and sign this into law, its been a tremendous day," said Air Force Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach. "He made a promise to me a year-and-a-half ago. He looked me in the eye and said, 'I'm going to get this done.'"
Air Force veteran Jeff Cadavona said Wednesday's signing was a long time coming.
"When I was in the military in the '60s -- that hammer over you for being openly gay," he said. "If they found you out, they'd kick you right out."
The change won't be immediate, however. The White House has noted that the repeal may take several months to implement.
The Pentagon has an 87-page implementation plan for the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." Over the next several weeks, military officials need to examine and rewrite a series of policies, regulations and directives related to the current law.
Once that potentially lengthy process is complete, Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Mullen each will have to certify that the repeal can move ahead without negatively affecting unit cohesion and military readiness.
After the certification, another 60 days will need to pass before the repeal is officially enacted.
Obama said that he has spoken to every one of the military service chiefs, and that they have all promised to enact the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy "swiftly and efficiently."
"We are not going to be dragging our feet to get this done," he promised.
Even after the repeal, gay and lesbian service members will not have every right and privilege accorded to heterosexual members of the military, largely because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
A Pentagon study released this month concluded that allowing openly gay or lesbian troops to serve in the military would have little lasting impact on the U.S. forces.
"Those people are soldiers or sailors or Marines first," said Korea War veteran Lee Holl. "They do what they're told, just like the rest of us did.
Opposition to the change was much stronger in Army and Marine combat units than in the military as a whole.
More than 14,000 military members have been discharged because of "don't ask, don't tell" since it was enacted in 1993.
I read about this several days ago and have just been too angry to comment.
This is one of those things where Obama thinks he is doing some great service for the American people, but is really just pissing off a vast majority of the population.
This is going to destroy unit cohesion and troop morale especially in the combat arms units. Notice how the article simply says "Opposition to the change was much stronger in Army and Marine combat units than in the military as a whole," but doesn't actually give any quotes from that opposition? That's a nice bit of unbiased journalism there.
The big misconception about "don't ask, don't tell" is that it banned gay people from serving in the military. It didn't. That ban had already been in place for decades, DADT simply provided a loophole that allowed homosexuals to serve. Basically saying, "your sexual orientation is your business, so just don't bring it up and we'll allow you to serve."
DADT basically opened the door for gays to serve in the military and most likely a complete lifting of the ban was the ultimate goal of the policy. Of those 14,000 troops who have been discharged, I can name at least 2 heterosexual women who simply used the policy as a quick and easy way to get honorably discharged from the Army. They were in my unit in Ft. Hood, TX and they weren't lesbians, but they were willing to say that they were just so they could get discharged. So, I have a hard time believing that a big chunk of those 14,000 discharges weren't heterosexuals willing to claim that they were gay just to get released from service.
Also, notice how this article never bothers to mention that DADT was a Clinton policy? Even though it mentions that the law is 17 years old and was enacted in 1993, it never bothers to name Bill Clinton as the President who signed it into law.