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Military and gay leaders hail Senate vote to repeal DADT
From News Releases, posted Dec. 18, 19 and 20, 2010
2010-12-15

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates

"I welcome today's vote by the Senate clearing the way for a legislative repeal of the 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' law.

"Once this legislation is signed into law by the President, the Department of Defense will immediately proceed with the planning necessary to carry out this change carefully and methodically, but purposefully. This effort will be led by Dr. Clifford Stanley, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and himself a retired Marine Corps major general and infantry officer.

[ Also please see DADT is history, Dec. 18, 2010, by Lisa Keen, Keen News Service www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php ]

"The legislation provides that repeal will take effect once the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that implementation of the new policies and regulations written by the Department is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces. As I have stated before, I will approach this process deliberately and will make such certification only after careful consultation with the military service chiefs and our combatant commanders and when I am satisfied that those conditions have been met for all the Services, commands and units.

"It is therefore important that our men and women in uniform understand that while today's historic vote means that this policy will change, the implementation and certification process will take an additional period of time. In the meantime, the current law and policy will remain in effect.

"Successful implementation will depend upon strong leadership, a clear message and proactive education throughout the force. With a continued and sustained commitment to core values of leadership, professionalism and respect for all, I am convinced that the U.S. military can successfully accommodate and implement this change, as it has others in history."

U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense ( Public Affairs )

Statement by Adm. Mike Mullen on Senate Vote to Repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

"I am pleased to see the Congress vote to repeal the law governing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' Handling this through legislation preserves the military's prerogative to implement change in a responsible, deliberate manner.

"More critically, it is the right thing to do. No longer will able men and women who want to serve and sacrifice for their country have to sacrifice their integrity to do so. We will be a better military as a result.

"I look forward to working with Secretary Gates and the Service chiefs as we set about the task of preparing and certifying the joint force to implement the new law. And I am committed to making sure that process is well-led, maintains our combat readiness and upholds our high standards."

U.S. Department of Defense

Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense ( Public Affairs )

Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps:

"Fidelity is the essence of the United States Marine Corps. Above all else, we are loyal to the Constitution, our Commander in Chief, Congress, our Chain of Command, and the American people. The House of Representatives and the Senate have voted to repeal Title 10, US Code 654 'Policy Concerning Homosexuality in the United States Armed Forces.' As stated during my testimony before Congress in September and again during hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this month, the Marine Corps will step out smartly to faithfully implement this new policy. I, and the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, will personally lead this effort, thus ensuring the respect and dignity due all Marines. On this matter, we look forward to further demonstrating to the American people the discipline and loyalty that have been the hallmark of the United States Marine Corps for over 235 years."

PALM CENTER: IN WAKE OF SENATE DADT VICTORY, EXPERTS SAY LENGTHY TRAINING PERIOD FOR TROOPS IS UNNEEDED

Today, Palm Center Director Aaron Belkin released this statement following the Senate's passage of legislation to conditionally repeal "don't ask, don't tell":

"Today, the Palm Center salutes the U.S. Senate for this courageous vote, which will improve national security and allow gay and lesbian troops to be treated with the same dignity as their straight counterparts. This is a historic day for the military and for the American tradition of civil rights, but this process does not end here. We expect the Pentagon to shortly announce its demand for a lengthy period of training and education to prepare the troops for open gay service, possibly lasting though much of 2011, before repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' can be certified.

The Palm Center will imminently release a study showing that this demand is not based on actual military needs. In fact, the Pentagon has the capacity to train the forces immediately, within a matter of weeks. The RAND Corporation's research has found that the way to minimize any disruption from the implementation of open gay service is to proceed quickly and with strong leadership. Only three steps are needed to assure a smooth and quick transition to open gay service: an immediate executive order from President Obama suspending all discharges; a few weeks to put the new regulations in place; and following this, immediate certification to end 'don't ask, don't tell.'"

The Palm Center is a think tank at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Since 1998, the Center has been a leader in commissioning and disseminating research in the areas of gender, sexuality, and the military. For more information, visit www.palmcenter.org .

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Rea Carey, Executive Director National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

"Today's vote is the critical strike against 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and toward creating a path that could end in lesbian, gay and bisexual people being able to serve openly, honestly, and to great benefit of our country. We celebrate this important victory and thank all the senators who supported fairness today. We are on the brink of making history. An end to 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' cannot happen soon enough. This arcane and costly policy has destroyed thousands of careers, wasted much-needed dollars, and failed to enhance our nation's security. We are now poised to end this travesty once and for all, as the Senate today joined with the three-quarters of Americans who already believe 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' must go. People from every background, every faith, every community across the country know that qualified, patriotic Americans willing to risk their lives by serving in the military should be able to do so, free of discrimination. When full repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is implemented, our nation will honor the principles of fairness and justice that it holds so dearly. We urge President Obama to act swiftly to sign this historic bill."

ACLU Statement

WASHINGTON — The Senate today voted to pass legislation repealing the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, sending the historic bill to the president's desk for signature. The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Repeal Act of 2010 ( H.R. 2965 ) was passed in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. The American Civil Liberties Union lauded the vote and urged President Obama to swiftly sign the bill into law.

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was passed into law in 1993 and, since 1994, more than 14,000 qualified and committed service members, both men and women, have been discharged under the policy simply on the basis of their sexual orientation. The momentum to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has been building for nearly a year with President Obama calling for its repeal in his State of the Union address and the highest ranking members of the military calling for the policy to end.

Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

"For nearly two decades, gay and lesbian service members have been forced to hide who they are in order to serve their country. That will soon end. The significance of this vote should not be underestimated and should serve as confirmation that we should not and cannot codify discrimination into our laws.

"'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' had no place in a country where we value the equal treatment of all our citizens. We urge President Obama to swiftly sign this bill and ensure that our gay and lesbian service members can serve their country with honesty and dignity."

Statement from GetEqual

Co-Founder Robin McGhee issues statement-applauding congress for ending the 17-year-old discriminatory law, though many steps remain for full equality.

Washington, DC. — Today, GetEQUAL - a national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization applauded congressional action on the repeal of the discriminatory law known as Don't Ask Don't Tell. After a cloture vote held this morning and a final vote moments ago, the United States Senate with bi-partisan support declared their clear support towards ending the discrimination of all LGBT service men and women and took another step towards creating equality and justice for all LGBT Americans. While a large step forward was taken by ending the discriminatory law today, there remain many obstacles in the way of full equality for LGBT service men and women. The current legislation that passed the Senate only moments ago still leaves many issues open, ranging from the service of Transgender Men and Women and the implementation of the repeal.

GetEqual Co-Founder Robin McGhee recently released this statement in response to the senate action today. "We are thrilled today that the Senate has taken one more step toward full legal equality for all Americans. Today's vote is one more step forward in not only retiring this discriminatory policy, but also in the larger march toward equality and justice for LGBT Americans. While today's vote doesn't yet finalize repeal, and while the legislation is far from perfect -- leaving our transgender sisters and brothers in the grip of discrimination -- we are happy to have finally moved past this hurdle. Though we have many other hurdles ahead of us to truly and fully end military discrimination for the entire LGBT community, we look forward to the fight ahead to repeal this policy once and for all."

Statement by Rep. Mike Quigley, 5th District of Illinois

CHICAGO - Immediately following the United States Senate's vote to repeal the discriminatory policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," U.S. Representative Mike Quigley ( IL-05 ) released the following statement:

"Today, we have righted a wrong. We have repealed a policy that was both morally repugnant and counter-productive to our national security. We have taken an extraordinary step toward equal rights for all Americans. Today, we have done the right thing.

Last week, I spoke on the House floor about the Congressional Cemetery, the final resting place of Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich. Technical Sergeant Matlovich was a recipient of the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for his distinguished service in Vietnam. As a Race Relations Instructor, he was instrumental in helping the military overcome its past legacy of racial discrimination, but he fell victim to the Air Force's discriminatory ban on gays and was discharged in 1975.

His headstone, in sight of our Capitol dome, reads "When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one."

When it comes to matters of equality, it is always the right time to do the right thing.

Today, we did the right thing."

Statement by Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin

"The Senate vote today finally marks the end of a sad chapter in American history. Since its inception, the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy has been an un-American assault on our most fundamental tenet — that 'all men are created equal.' The policy discriminates against gays and lesbians who currently serve or wish to serve in the military, including those previously discharged who wish to rejoin.

The 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy is a threat to our national security. Since 1994, more than 13,000 highly trained service members have been discharged as a result of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' In the last five years, while our country has been engaged in two wars, the military has discharged more than 800 mission-critical troops under this policy, including more than 50 Arabic linguists.

Integrity is a hallmark of military service. Yet, for 17 years, we have had a statutory policy that requires some in our military to conceal, deceive, and lie. This is an inexcusable affront to all who wear the uniform.

The repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' is long overdue, but no less welcome.

I look forward to the expeditious implementation of all policies necessary to end discrimination against gays and lesbians who currently serve or wish to serve in the military. I will continue to work for full equality for LGBT Americans. In the United States of America, there is no place for irrational and insidious discrimination in any sector of society."

Log Cabin Republicans

( Washington, DC ) - The United States Senate in a vote of 65 to 31 passed legislation, including 8 Republicans, which upon certification by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense, and the President, will end the military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy.

"This is an historic day, not just for gay and lesbian servicemembers, but for all Americans," said Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper and an out officer in the United States Army Reserve. "Today the Senate voted, with strong Republican support, to finally end a policy which has burdened our armed services for far too long, depriving our nation of the talent, training and hardwon battle experience of thousands of patriotic Americans. Soon, the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who sacrifice so much to defend our freedom will be able t o enjoy those same freedoms equally, without regard to sexual orientation. Log Cabin Republicans is proud to have played a role in this victory, and we thank our allies in Congress, without whom repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' would not have been possible."

Republican senators supporting repeal include:

Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA)
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
Sen. John Ensign (R-NV)
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH)

Brian Bond, White House Blog Ending Don't Ask Don't Tell, December 18, 2010 at 06:50 PM EST

Today, I had one of those "once in a lifetime" moments. As I sat in the Senate Gallery with my bosses, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina and Director of the Office of Public Engagement Tina Tchen, I saw history being made as the US Senate voted 65 to 31 to pass the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010. I am proud of the many leaders in Congress and all those who have worked to put an end to DADT. And I'm proud of the President for his leadership on this issue. It has been a long time getting here and it has been a struggle — but as the President has said many times, "Change isn't easy." But today we took a huge step forward to set right a wrong.

Last December about this time, I was at a small event in the Roosevelt Room. The President was just getting ready to leave for the Christmas Holiday. He walked over to me and without missing a beat, put his hand on my shoulder, and I will never forget what he said to me — unsolicited -- "We are going to end Don't Ask Don't Tell. We have a little bit of work to do still, but we are going to get it done." A month later, in his first State of the Union Address, the President said, "This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It's the right thing to do."

Now I am sure that there will be many stories written about what happened and how we got here, but for me, the key part of the story that I will never forget is that commitment from the President. Nor will I ever forget the brave men and women who have served with distinction who also happen to be gay or lesbian. Throughout the course of this effort, I have been privileged to meet some amazing heroes who just wanted to serve their country. I will carry their stories with me for the rest of my life.

Earlier today, The White House released a statement from President Obama on the end of Don't Ask Don't Tell, in which he said "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." Read the entire statement here.

Brian Bond is Deputy Director of the Office of Public Engagement


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