President Barack Obama on Friday, living up to a campaign promise to the gay and lesbian community, signed the certification that repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the 17-year-old ban on gays serving openly in the military.
The President sent the email below to individuals and organizations who worked hard to make the historic event possible:
Last year, I visited Afghanistan. I was there to thank our men and women in uniform, the brave Americans who have given so much on behalf of this country and who make me so proud to be Commander-in-Chief. At one of America’s bases there, I was shaking hands and taking pictures, walking along a pretty tight crowd of service members. A young woman in uniform pulled me into a hug. She leaned in close so I could hear her over the noise and whispered, “Get ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ done.”
I said to her, “I promise you I will.”
A few weeks later, after a struggle that lasted almost two decades, I signed a law to repeal this policy. I signed it with absolute confidence in our men and women in uniform, in their professionalism and in their capacity to adapt to this change, just as they have adapted and grown stronger with other changes throughout our history. And I signed this repeal knowing that our military would be stronger – and our nation safer – for the service of patriotic gay men and women who would no longer have to live a lie in order to defend the country they love.
Today, in accordance with this law, I signed the certification that will end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” once and for all. The Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also have certified that the military is ready for the repeal. Sixty days from now, on September 20th, the repeal will be complete and gay men and women will be able to serve their country openly.
On that day, I’ll be thinking of the young woman I met in Afghanistan. And I’ll be thinking of the countless others like her, straight and gay alike, who love this nation and the ideals for which it was founded, and who have signed up to serve so that we might all live in freedom and uphold this simple creed: we are all created equal.
Thank you for helping to make this victory for our country possible.