As a friend succulently pointed out just now, "Obama just ended 'don't ask don't tell.' So much for staying in tonight." Indeed. President Barack Obama today signed a certification of Congress' repeal of the United States' antiquated ban on gay men and women from serving openly in the military. The 18-year-old Clinton-era law will officially be squashed on September 20. What does this mean, exactly? Well, it means that the military will no longer (legally) be allowed to discharge a service member or deny enlistment to openly queer folks.
President Obama released the following statement about this afternoon's certification:
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.
Locally, the city's Castro district will be elated throughout most of the night, we suspect. We strongly recommend checking it out if you're bored, feeling randy, and/or patriotic.