At 9:15 a.m. Eastern this morning, President Barack Obama took the podium amidst lots of cheering and "Yes We Cans" to sign the Don't Ask Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010.
Obama thanked Congress for putting "conviction ahead of politics to get this done together," calling out specifically Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Joe Lieberman and "a guy you might know," Barney Frank. He also thanked the service members in the room, including those who had been "hang up their uniforms as a result of 'don't ask, don't tell.'" There was more than one heartwarming story about gay members of the armed forces.
"Their names are etched into the walls of our memorials. Their headstones dot the grounds at Arlington," he said, explaining there will never be a true memorial to those who had to hide their identity while in service to our country. Turning to address gay members of the military and those who will seek to re-enlist he said:
So as the first generation serving openly in our armed forces, you will stand for all those who came before you. You will serve as role models for all who come in. I know you will fulfill this responsibility with integrity and honor, just as you have every other mission.
"USA! USA!" Chants and Hail to the Chief played him off in a hopey wave of handshakes.