Today, it’s official. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is formally repealed and gays and lesbians will, for the first time, be allowed to serve openly in the military. Reflecting on the milestone, President Obama said today he was proud to repeal the 17-year-old ban “because I knew that it would enhance our national security, increase our military readiness, and bring us closer to the principles of equality and fairness that define us as Americans.”
“As of today, patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love. As of today, our armed forces will no longer lose the extraordinary skills and combat experience of so many gay and lesbian service members. And today, as commander in chief, I want those who were discharged under this law to know that your country deeply values your service,” the president said in a written statement.
Service members who were discharged under the policy will now be allowed to re-enlist and the military has already been taking applications from potential gay recruits.
Obama went on to note that the repeal “is a tribute to all the patriots who fought and marched for change,” from lawmakers to military leaders to the men and women in uniform.
“For more than two centuries, we have worked to extend America’s promise to all our citizens. Our armed forces have been both a mirror and a catalyst of that progress, and our troops, including gays and lesbians, have given their lives to defend the freedoms and liberties that we cherish as Americans. Today, every American can be proud that we have taken another great step toward keeping our military the finest in the world and toward fulfilling our nation’s founding ideals,” Obama concluded.