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President Obama Signs DADT Repeal Bill

This morning, President Obama fulfilled his campaign pledge to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) by signing the stand-alone bill to repeal the policy. On Saturday, the Senate voted 63 to 33 to end the Republican filibuster on the DADT legislation and 65 to 31 to repeal the bill. For the past 17 years, the policy has prohibited the military from inquiring about a service member’s sexual orientation and calls for the discharge of anyone who acknowledges being lesbian or gay. Before a large, applauding crowd, President Obama declared, “It is time to recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender, religion or creed. It is time to allow gay and lesbian Americans to serve their country openly.” He recognized and thanked for their major roles in this struggle Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid, Representative Patrick Murphy, chief House sponsor, and Representative Susan Davis, outgoing Chair of the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel, and other Congressional leaders, as well as Admiral Mullen. Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, stated, “I was proud to be at the signing and feel the joy in the auditorium as a major milestone on the road to equality was reached. As Vice President Biden said, ‘it took a very long time coming.’ And I add, too long… and there are many more milestones to achieve. But the movement is growing and strong, and I have no doubt full equality for all people will be realized.” Last week, the measure to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), introduced by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Representative Patrick Murphy (D-PA), passed in the House by a vote of 250 to 175. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contained an amendment to repeal DADT, passed in the House in May but failed to receive the necessary 60 votes in the Senate to overcome the Republican filibuster. Both US Secretary of Defense Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mullen urged Congress to repeal DADT and endorsed the Pentagon study on DADT released at the beginning of this month. The report included a comprehensive survey of military service personnel and their spouses on their views of gays and lesbians openly serving in the military and found that the repeal of DADT would pose low risk to military effectiveness. Seventy percent of those surveyed stated they thought repeal would have a positive, mixed, or no effect.

Sources:

Feminist Majority Foundation 12/22/10; Statement of President Obama 12/18/10; Washington Post 12/22/10; Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Statement 12/22/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 12/20/10