The law that bans gay and bisexual
troops from serving openly in the military ended Wednesday with
President Obama's signature.
“Thank you Mr. President,” someone
in the crowd at the morning signing ceremony shouted as Obama
approached the podium.
“You're welcome,” he replied.
Flanked by repeal backers, including
Admiral Mike Mullen, outgoing Pennsylvania Representative Patrick
Murphy, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader
Harry Reid, and Senators Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Susan
Collins of Maine, Obama praised lawmakers and top military leaders
who united to get the bill approved
during a hectic lame-duck session of Congress.
In remarks before he signed the
landmark bill, Obama said military service is no longer defined by
sexual orientation and revealed that he had promised a young soldier
he would lift the ban.
“Some of you remember I visited
Afghanistan just a few weeks ago. And while I was walking along the
rope line – a big crowd, about 3,000 – a young woman in uniform
was shaking my hand and other people were grabbing and taking
pictures. She pulled me into a hug and she whispered in my ear, 'Get
don't ask, don't tell done.' And I said to her, 'I promise you I
“For we are not a nation that says
don't ask, don't tell. We are a nation that says out of many we are
one. We are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot. We
are a nation that believes all men and women are created equal.
Those are the ideals that generations have fought for. Those are the
ideals that we uphold today.”
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), the largest group
lobbying for repeal, praised Obama for backing the measure.
“In signing this bill today,
President Obama delivered on a defining civil rights measure for our
country and for gay, lesbian and bisexual members who have been
silenced for far too long,” Sarvis said.
“President Obama was decisive and
forceful in steering the course as he brought along critical
stakeholders, including the Defense Department,” he added.
Implementation is expected to take
months and supporters of repeal are cautioning gay troops not to come