On the morning of December 22, at the Department of the Interior, in Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama signed into law the bill that repeals “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” allowing openly gay and lesbian service people to serve in the military. The President recounted the story of a gay soldier, who risked his own life to save a fellow serviceman, during World War Two, and said, “No longer will our country be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans who were forced to leave the military—regardless of their skills, no matter their bravery or their zeal, no matter their years of exemplary service—because they happen to be gay. No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a live, or look over their shoulder, in order to serve the country that they love.”
The Human Rights Campaign recently detailed the full process the bill must go through before it becomes law: “First, the President must sign the legislation passed by Congress. Second, according to the legislation, the President must transmit a written certification to the House and Senate Armed Services Committee signed by the President, Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certifying that: (1) all signatories have considered the recommendations contained in the Pentagon Working Group report; (2) the Department of Defense has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to implement repeal; and (3) the policies and regulations implementing repeal are consistent with military standards for readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention. Third, 60 days must elapse after the President delivers the written certification before DADT is repealed once and for all.”
The full transcript of Vice-President Joseph Biden and President Barack Obama’s remarks at the signing follows:
9:10 A.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hey, folks, how are you? (Applause.) It’s a good day. (Applause.) It’s a real good day. As some of my colleagues can tell you, this is a long time in coming. But I am happy it’s here.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. Please be seated.
It was a great five-star general and President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who once said, “Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness and consideration, and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace.”
By repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" today, we take a big step toward fostering justice, fairness and consideration, and that real cooperation President Eisenhower spoke of.
This fulfills an important campaign promise the President and I made, and many here on this stage made, and many of you have fought for, for a long time, in repealing a policy that actually weakens our national security, diminished our ability to have military readiness, and violates the fundamental American principle of fairness and equality -- that exact same set of principles that brave gay men and women will now be able to openly defend around the world. (Applause.)
It is both morally and militarily simply the right thing to do. And it’s particularly important that this result was fully supported by those within the military who are charged with implementing it. And I want to pay particular respect, just as a personal note -- as we used to say, I used to be allowed to say in the Senate, a point of personal privilege -- Admiral Mullen, you're a stand-up guy. (Applause.) I think they like you. (Applause.)
He already has enough power. Don't -- (laughter.)
And it couldn't have been done without these men and women leading our military. And certainly it could not have been done without the steady, dedicated and persistent leadership of the President of the United States. (Applause.)
Mr. President, by signing this bill, you will be linking military might with an abiding sense of justice. You’ll be projecting power by promoting fairness, and making the United States military as strong as they can be at a time we need it to be the strongest.
Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States of America, the Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Yes, we did! Yes, we did! Yes, we did!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you! Yes, we did.