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DADT dies for good on Sept. 20

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the military gay ban, will be fully and permanently dead on Sept. 20.

It already can’t be enforced against active-duty troops, courtesy of the
U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

But on July 22, Congress’ repeal of the ban was certified by Defense
Secretary Leon Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral
Michael Mullen and President Barack Obama, setting in motion a 60-day
waiting period until the policy is history.

The certification confirms that the armed forces’ implementation of the
repeal and the transition to open service will not affect unit cohesion or
readiness.

“The final countdown to repeal begins today,” said Servicemembers Legal
Defense Network Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis, who urged Obama to now
issue an executive order banning anti-gay discrimination and harassment in
the military.

“Signing legislation that allows for repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was
necessary but it is not sufficient for ensuring equality in the military,”
Sarvis said. “It’s critical that gay and lesbian service members have the
same avenues for recourse as their straight counterparts when it comes to
harassment and discrimination.”

SLDN also promised to advocate for legally married service members to
receive the same benefits as their straight counterparts, and to assist
veterans in correcting or upgrading discharge paperwork.

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese called Obama’s certification
of repeal “a monumental step not just for those forced to lie in order to
serve but for all Americans who believe in fairness and equality.”

Servicemembers United Executive Director Alexander Nicholson said: “Today,
gay and lesbian service members can and will breath a huge sigh of relief.
While we still must wait 60 days for this change to formally take effect
and for the law to officially be off the books, this step is nothing short
of historic.”

“This is the final nail in the coffin for the discriminatory, outdated and
harmful Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law,” Nicholson said.

OutServe, the association of actively serving LGBT military personnel,
hailed the announcement.

“In 60 days, my life and the lives of thousands of other gay and lesbian
troops changes,” said OutServe co-director “JD Smith.” “I cannot be more
proud to be able to serve during this time.”

Lesbian U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., said people victimized by DADT
now deserve an apology.

“I remember and honor the service of all the courageous lesbian and gay
members of our armed forces who have been required to live a lie so that
they can serve our country, or have been discharged because of who they
are,” Baldwin said. “These patriotic Americans deserve our thanks and our
apologies.”

President Obama issued this statement:

“Today, we have taken the final major step toward ending the
discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law that undermines our military
readiness and violates American principles of fairness and equality. In
accordance with the legislation that I signed into law last December, I
have certified and notified Congress that the requirements for repeal have
been met. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will end, once and for all, in 60 days —
on September 20, 2011.

“As Commander in Chief, I have always been confident that our dedicated
men and women in uniform would transition to a new policy in an orderly
manner that preserves unit cohesion, recruitment, retention and military
effectiveness. Today’s action follows extensive training of our military
personnel and certification by Secretary Panetta and Admiral Mullen that
our military is ready for repeal. As of September 20th, service members
will no longer be forced to hide who they are in order to serve our
country. Our military will no longer be deprived of the talents and skills
of patriotic Americans just because they happen to be gay or lesbian.

“I want to commend our civilian and military leadership for moving forward
in the careful and deliberate manner that this change requires, especially
with our nation at war. I want to thank all our men and women in uniform,
including those who are gay or lesbian, for their professionalism and
patriotism during this transition. Every American can be proud that our
extraordinary troops and their families, like earlier generations that
have adapted to other changes, will only grow stronger and remain the best
fighting force in the world and a reflection of the values of justice and
equality that the define us as Americans.”

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