This morning we here at the Center were elated to watch President Barack Obama make history for our movement when he signed legislation repealing the 17 year old “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. Last weekend the U.S. Senate voted 65-31 to overturn the law following previous action by the House; this paved the way for political and military leaders to begin planning the certification and implementation process to allow gay and lesbian people to serve our county openly. Since the discriminatory law was enacted in 1993 more than 14 thousand gay and lesbian service members have lost their jobs.
The Center has heard countless stories of the brave men and women who defended our country, but were forced to hide who they are. We’ve in fact offered support services to many of these individuals who are coping with the effects of discriminatory policies and wrong-headed double standards. We’ve also hosted a number of events in recent years, giving voice to those speaking out against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and advocating for repeal of the law. This past November alone the Center hosted several programs on the topic, including a robust panel discussion with key thought leaders, a screening of the documentary, “A Marine Story,” a compelling photo exhibit, “Proud to Serve,” and a special night of book readings from LGBT Marine Corps veterans.
The Center is the premiere space for our community to come together, share ideas and plan action around the most pressing inequalities facing us, including “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” And we will continue to be that nexus for LGBT people and our allies on all of our most important issues of the day. Therefore, we applaud the President for fulfilling his campaign promise to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and we thank those in Congress who voted to repeal this law, particularly New York Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Charles Schumer (D-NY). The New York Times editorial board summed it up well, writing: “After the transformative vote, Mr. Obama said thousands of men and women would no longer have to live a lie in order to serve their country. As they begin this new chapter in their service, their country too will find itself transformed for the better.”