WASHINGTON -Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued the following statement regarding the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" vote in the Senate, "As the President has long said, ending 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the military, will strengthen our national security while upholding the basic equality on which this nation was founded. The President looks forward to signing the bill into law."
President Obama has released a statement on the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010. The historic vote would not have happened without the tireless efforts of many, including leaders in Congress, advocates, and the clear leadership provided by the President. As recently as this morning, the President has been reaching out to Senators from both sides of the aisle to help secure votes. It was only 11 months ago that the President called for the repeal in his first State of the Union and then laid out the plan, including the Pentagon’s Comprehensive Review for the Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, that has taken us to where we are today.
The President's full statement follows:
The Senate has taken an historic step toward ending a policy that undermines our national security while violating the very ideals that our brave men and women in uniform risk their lives to defend. By ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay. And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love.
As Commander-in-Chief, I am also absolutely convinced that making this change will only underscore the professionalism of our troops as the best led and best trained fighting force the world has ever known. And I join the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the overwhelming majority of service members asked by the Pentagon, in knowing that we can responsibly transition to a new policy while ensuring our military strength and readiness.
I want to thank Majority Leader Reid, Senators Lieberman and Collins and the countless others who have worked so hard to get this done. It is time to close this chapter in our history. 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. It is time to allow gay and lesbian Americans to serve their country openly. I urge the Senate to send this bill to my desk so that I can sign it into law.
Additional statements were issued by:
The Senate’s vote to repeal the military’s unjust Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy is a landmark victory that ends the 17-year policy of discrimination against lesbians and gay men in the military and moves our nation one step closer to realizing the promise of equality.
NOW thanks all of the senators who voted to recognize the right of lesbians and gay men to serve openly in the military, especially those who for years have taken a lead role in the struggle. We also recognize the courage of the Republican senators who broke ranks to end the filibuster and move to a vote on this historic legislation.
NOW has long been concerned about the disproportionate impact of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell on women. According to the Service Women’s Action Network, sexual harassment of military women frequently takes the form of “lesbian baiting.” An indication of the lopsided impact of the policy is that, in 2008, 34 percent of service members discharged were women even though women constitute only 15 percent of military personnel.
Military leaders have endorsed repeal and are confident that the troops and their families are ready, and that repeal will not negatively affect military readiness, unit cohesion, unit effectiveness, or retention. The public is also ready. Numerous polls show a majority of Republicans, Independents, Democrats, conservatives, moderates, liberals and frequent church goers support ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
The president is expected to sign the bill as soon as it reaches his desk. NOW urges military leaders to move forward rapidly to certify and implement its provisions as soon as the bill becomes law. Lesbian and gay service members should not have to wait a single unnecessary day to have the same right as heterosexuals to serve openly in the military.
After today's 65-31 Senate vote to repeal of the 17-year-old ban, the legislation moves to President Obama, who has said that he will sign the repeal into law.
"To deny brave men and women the ability to serve their country openly and honestly is to reject the fundamental American principles of fairness and equality for all," said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. "Today’s vote, a reflection of the overwhelming majority of Americans who support the repeal, moves us one step closer to ending a ban which undermines our national security and has resulted in the loss of critical and skilled service members."
"As I heard the final vote count, relief swept over me and I felt like my eight years of service and sacrifice had finally been validated,” said Sergeant Anthony Bustos. "Today's vote will not only strengthen our national security, it will also strengthen our nation's integrity."
Sergeant Anthony Bustos, a 25 year old native Texan, served eight years in the United States Army National Guard and completed two tours in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sergeant Bustos was officially discharged on December 9, 2010 under the military’s "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" law. Sergeant Bustos worked with GLAAD prior to coming out on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer earlier this year.
A major Pentagon study concluded gay and lesbian people could serve openly without affecting combat effectiveness and that two-thirds of troops predicted little impact if the law is repealed. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey (http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2010/05/25/cnn-poll-nearly-8-in-10-favor-gays-in-the-military/) released earlier this year indicates that 78 percent of the public supports allowing openly gay and lesbian people to serve in the military.
GLAAD encourages mainstream media to spotlight the stories of brave gay and lesbian people in uniform who are at the heart of today's victory. GLAAD's National News team has been working along-side other advocacy organizations for years to share the stories of gay and lesbian service members and has media-ready service members ready to speak on this issue.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) amplifies the voice of the LGBT community by empowering real people to share their stories, holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helping grassroots organizations communicate effectively. By ensuring that the stories of LGBT people are heard through the media, GLAAD promotes understanding, increases acceptance, and advances equality. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org. For the latest updates on our work, visit www.twitter.com/glaad and www.facebook.com/glaad.