Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"This is done." President Obama signs DADT repeal

Fulfilling a major campaign promise to both his base and the LGBT community at large, President Obama signed the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell this morning before an appreciative audience.

The President had faced numerous attacks and skepticism for his deliberate approach to the ban on openly gay service men and women. Though many pushed for the President to simply sign an executive order, the White House stuck with its plan for a legislative repeal of the discriminatory law.

Skepticism grew even more as the Department of Justice recently appealed a federal court ruling, which declared the ban unconstitutional. However, the White House insisted that a court ruling, while welcomed among many DADT opponents, would not be the wisest approach. A court order demanding an immediate appeal could cause instability of process for a military that had already begun the process of studying the best manner in which to undue the ban.

Supporters were asked to trust that the President would hold true to his word and that he would stay focused on the repeal. Some were patient, however other, more vocal, critics of the President's approach openly questioned his motives and character. In time, some critics went so far as to accuse President Obama of being homophobic and routinely mocked his self-identified stance as a "fierce-advocate" for gay rights.

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 22: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) gives a thumbs up while Eric Alva (3rd-R), former U.S. Navy Commander Marine Staff Sgt. Zoe Dunning (3rd-L) andVice President Joseph Biden (L) look on after Obama signed legislation repealing military policy law during a ceremony December 22, 2010 in Washington, DC. President Obama signed into law a bill repealing the don't ask, don't tell law against gays serving openly in the military. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
But, with an impressive 65-31 vote in the Senate over the weekend, the repeal and campaign promise finally made it's way to the President's desk for signature on Wednesday morning. At the ceremony, President Obama made it clear that repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell was one of the very first issues he took up with military leadership:

"Ending Don't Ask Don't Tell was a topic in my first meeting with Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, and the Joint Chiefs. We talked about how to end this policy. We talked about how success in both passing and implementing this change depended on working with the Pentagon. And that's what we did."

The President also answered critics who worry about a long and drawn out implementation process:

"Now, the old policy remains in effect until Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, and I certify the military's readiness to implement the repeal. And this is especially important for service members to remember that. But, I've spoken to every one of the service chiefs and they are all committed to implementing this change swiftly and efficiently. We are not going to be dragging our feet to get this done."

The repeal now takes its place along with other historic civil rights achievements. Like other civil rights victories before it, the President presumes there will be a time where people look back at this issue and wonder why things took as long as they did.

However, with the legislative repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the President finds vindication in the methodical approach that he began roughly two years ago.

Before putting pen to paper, President Obama gave one final proclamation on the repeal and what it means for the United States as a country:

"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 that all men and women are created equal. Those are the ideals that generations have fought for; those are the ideals that we uphold today. And now it is my honor to sign this bill into law."


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