In 36 degree weather, hundreds stood in line for hours in front of the Interior Department well before the requested 7:00 AM invitation time to watch President Obama sign into law the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
After two House votes, three Senate votes, seventeen years of forced lies and witchhunts, over 13,000 discharges, twenty-three military studies — the most recent costing $4.5 million — untold hours and millions of dollars worth of of lobbying and debate, the declaration as unconstitutional by a federal judge, and 78% of Americans in agreement, President Obama spoke for 20 minutes, then at 9:35, with many pens, the President signed into law the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal bill.
President Obama spoke of many LGBT service members who were true patriots and devoted their lives to their country. Acknowledging this has been going on for over two centuries, Obama said, “You are not the first to have to endure this, but you are the last.”
In a particularly evil move, late last night Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attempted to add a poison pill to the upcoming defense authorization bill, by requiring all four service chiefs to certify the repeal as well. Given their public statements, this would have effectively ended repeal. Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) objected and quashed the underhanded move.
Joining the President on stage were Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), Majority Leader, Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Majority Leader, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Representative Patrick Murphy (D-PA), Representative Susan Davis (D-CA), Eric Alva, Former Staff Sgt, US Marine Corps, and Zoe Dunning, Former Commander, US Navy.
In attendance also were approximately 500 invitees, including hundreds of LGBT vets who have fought for repeal since Bill Clinton signed the discriminatory law in 1993. From Lt. Dan Choi, the poster boy for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, and Mike Almy, to Frank Kameny, long-time LGBT vet, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, The New Civil Rights Movement writers Tanya Domi and Justin Elzie, GetEQUAL’s Robin McGehee, AmericaBlog’s Joe Sudbay, MetroWeekly’s Chris Geidner, Margaret Witt, the vet who fought in court the Obama DOD and DOJ, and so many others!