With Tuesday’s official end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), the ban on openly gay service personnel, many politicians and campaigners have been celebrating. In today’s mix we’ll look at the statement’s of people celebrating DADT’s demise.
Calling Tuesday’s repeal a historic one, President Obama said in a statement, “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.” Obama went on to call for unity after this change and that every American could be proud about this, the step towards equality the DADT repeal represents.
Senator Joseph Lieberman who helped craft a stand-alone legislative repeal in the Senate when a previous measure failed, said in a statement that DADT repeal represents that unity in politics is still possible, “Repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is the right thing to do whether you’re liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican, or independent. It is the right thing to do for our military and the right thing to do for our country. The sixty-five Senators who voted to correct this injustice showed that we’re still able to come together in a bipartisan way to fight for America’s best interests.”
Senator Susan Collins, who was also instrumental in the passing of the senate version of the repeal and was the only senate Republican to vote for DADT repeal legislation while in committee, said in her press statement, “Today represents an historic change for our military and our country. Today, for the first time in our history, we will welcome the serve of any qualified individual who is willing to put on the uniform. We will no longer dismiss brave, dedicated, and skilled service men and women simply because they are gay. The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is a victory for our national security, and our values, and it strengthens the ranks of our military.”
Representative Tammy Baldwin, whose campaign for the Senate would if successful make her the only out lesbian to hold a seat in the upper chamber, marked the occasion as a decisive step for equal rights: “Today marks a new chapter in our nation’s continuing quest for equal rights for all. With the end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ America’s armed forces are stronger, our policies are fairer, and our moral compass guides a truer course. My thoughts, today, are with all those gay men and lesbians who suffered directly or indirectly because of discriminatory policies in our military. The injustice they endured is not undone by today’s events. But, I also think of all the young men and women who now have great opportunities to serve their country and live their lives honestly and openly. I am grateful for this day.”
Rep. Jared Polis echoed Baldwin’s statement and characterized the repeal of DADT as a step forward both for equality and national defense. He ended on an appreciative note: ”I thank my colleagues who had the courage to vote to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell last December and applaud President Obama, Secretary Gates, Secretary Panetta, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and all who have worked to bring this day to pass. America will be an even stronger and better country with the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Army Veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis added to the tone of celebration, saying, “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.” He went on to add, however, a note on the progress that still must be made saying “our work is far from done.”
And as one might have expected, Lt. Dan Choi who was discharged under DADT and then began a campaign of direct action to draw attention to the discriminatory policy, has announced that with DADT’s end he will soon attempt to re-enlist, “Going back to the military will be a vindication,” Choi told POLITICO. “[I'm] going back because I fought to go back. The seriousness of our claims was not just political theatre – it was really drawn from our lives. I sacrificed so much so I could go back.”
Choi will be joined by countless others, such as Marine Lance Corporal Danny Hernandez, who all plan to re-enlist now that the military will accept them again.
The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has left some wondering if we have now witnessed the tipping point on gay rights and if rapid progress is soon at hand. What do you think?