“Don't Ask, Don't Tell” ceased
being in effect on Tuesday.
The law that banned gay and bisexual
troops from serving openly was repealed by Congress in December and
replaced with a plan to lift the military ban.
More than 13,000 service members were
discharged for violating the policy throughout its nearly 18 year
The policy's end means gay and lesbian
troops can now discuss their sexual orientation and prospective
service members will no longer be turned away because of their sexual
“Today marks the official end of
'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and is an historic milestone along the
journey to achieving LGBT equality in America's military,” said
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense
Network (SLDN), the largest group which lobbied for the law's end.
“Thanks to veterans, active duty, leaders, allies and supporters
everywhere, this is a monumental day for our service members and our
nation. Indeed, we have taken a tremendous leap forward for LGBT
equality in the military.”
According to the Associated Press,
the military had already begun taking applications from openly gay
recruits and said it would begin acting on them after the policy was
At a press conference on Monday,
Pentagon press secretary George Little said the military was prepared
for the change.
“No one should be left with the
impression that we are unprepared. We are prepared for repeal,”
Some service members immediately ended
their long silence.
In Vermont, Navy Lt. Gary Ross, 33,
married Dan Swezy, a 49-year-old civilian, at the stroke of midnight.
“It requires you to lie several times
a day,” Ross
said of the old policy. “Being in the military is extremely
invasive. It becomes a web of excuses you make when you try to be as
honest as possible but you can't be honest.”
And 25-year-old U.S. Air Force First
Lt. Joshua David Seefried shed the alias he used for several years as
a co-founder of OutServe, the underground network of active-duty gay
military personnel. On Tuesday, J.D. Smith, the name Seefried used,
went away along with DADT.
“It's all about leading now,”
told the AP. “If we all stay in the closet and don't act
brave, then the next generation won't have any progress.”
Repeal supporters will hold “Repeal
Day” celebrations across the country. More
than 100 events are scheduled. For an event in your area, visit