Don't Ask Don't Tell Repealed

President Barack Obama has formally repealed the ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military, signing Friday a certification that ends the 17-year-old "don't ask don't tell" policy on sexual orientation.

The president took the step, as expected, after meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Adm. Mike Mullen, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman.

As laid out in a law passed in December, the repeal will take effect 60 days from now.

"As of Sept. 20, service members will no longer be forced to hide who they are in order to serve our country," the president said in a statement Friday. "Our military will no longer be deprived of the talents and skills of patriotic Americans just because they happen to be gay or lesbian."

Obama, who pledged during his 2008 presidential campaign to dismantle the Bill Clinton-era policy, also is expected to certify the change to Congress, after meeting Friday afternoon with Panetta and Mullen.

That means the repeal would take effect in 60 days, as laid out in a law passed in December. Before "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the military did not allow gays to serve. But in 1993 Clinton said gays would be discharged only if their sexual orientation became known.

Repeal has drawn strong opposition from some in Congress, and there was initial reluctance from military leaders who worried it could cause a backlash and erode troop cohesion on the battlefield.

But two weeks ago, the chiefs of the military services told Panetta that ending the ban would not affect military readiness.

Advocacy groups that fought for the change called the decision Friday long-overdue, while opponents said it's a political payoff to left-leaning gay and lesbian activists.

"Openly gay service is a non-event and military readiness is improved when service members are not forced to lie in order to serve their country," said Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, a University of California-based think tank.

Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness, which has lobbied against repeal, said it will "undermine morale and readiness in the all-volunteer force."

The Pentagon is expected to spend the next 60 days preparing the troops for the change, and ironing out legal and technical details, including how it will affect housing, military transfers and other health and social benefits.

In most cases, the guidelines require that gays and lesbians be treated like any other member of the military.

There will be differences, however. Same sex partners will not get the same housing and other benefits as married couples. Instead, they are more likely to be treated like unmarried couples.

Once the repeal is final, service members can no longer be discharged for openly acknowledging they are gay. That's the key change. And those who have been discharged previously based solely on the gay ban may apply to re-enter the force.

Service members may also designate their same-sex partners as beneficiaries for insurance and other benefits — something they may have avoided earlier for fear it would cause their dismissal.

One of the thornier issues is gay marriage.

An initial move by the Navy earlier this year to train chaplains about same-sex civil unions in states where they are legal was shelved after more than five dozen Congress members objected.

The training, lawmakers told Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, violated the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act by appearing to recognize and support same-sex marriages.

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  • by Iraq vet Location: Hubert on Jul 24, 2011 at 05:54 PM
    T Maxx hit the nail on the head. No balanced budget, no deficit cuts, and a looming financial catastrophe, but there sure is time to downgrade the combat readiness of our military. I love where the priority is. I hope Nobama's mis-prioritizing doesn't result in our economy rivaling that of Somolia and the like. God help us...
  • by Anonymous on Jul 23, 2011 at 06:15 AM
    He has been from the start! We pray for God to bless America, but how can we even dare to ask him with all the sin in our country that is being allowed, not in secret but openly in your face kinda way! It's time to wake up America!!!
  • by Gregory on Jul 23, 2011 at 05:46 AM
    Just another immoral step down the path to self-struction. And yes, obama will get the gay vote. It's is a very sad statement when a certain demographic (and others) will sacrifice their country for a perceived benefit. Our Founding Fathers are not "rolling in their graves" - they are spinning!
  • by Anonymous on Jul 23, 2011 at 05:23 AM
    I didn't go to Vietnam, but I served 9 1/2 years and I agree that if you have not served you can't understand. Allowing gays to openly serve is going to create more problems and more lawsuits. Thankfully, the government can not repeal don't ask and don't tell in combat.
  • by Eric Location: Chocowinity on Jul 23, 2011 at 03:26 AM
    How many times have they asked for DADT to be repealed, or done so? Does this mean it's officially gone now and we can stop hearing about it, or is there going to be a ribbon cutting next week? As for morals vs. genetics, I could care less about that debate. Rather, I'll say that if we go back to only letting straight white men serve, we'll cut a huge percentage of our armed forces and it'll be more likely they'll reinstate the draft. So, let whomever fight for our freedoms who wants to, and keep our army an army of volunteers.
  • by Mike Location: Edenton on Jul 23, 2011 at 02:23 AM
    Obama has now officially bought the gay vote.... to the detriment of the military. He will stop at nothing to tear down this country including this. Have there been gays in the military all along? Yes, but being in the open will do nothing but harm the military. The vast majority of those who support Obama on this have never served in uniform and will never understand. They are only blinded by his glitter. This is a sad day for the military indeed. And YES... I served 8 years including a tour in 'Nam. So when you speak, speak from experience.
  • by T Maxx Location: G-vegas on Jul 23, 2011 at 12:34 AM
    I guess obama is campaign for them votes, for one thing its goes against the uniform military code of justice. for you civilians Hey thanks obama you can pass bill like that, but wont balance the budget, a cap on government spending or cut spending. Truly mind blowing. poeple need to wake up, he is all asmoke and mirriors.
  • by K on Jul 22, 2011 at 09:42 PM
    who cares if those who are serving our country are gay or straight? there are plenty of homosexuals serving now, now they don't have to be in the closet. All that matters is THEY are fighting for OUR freedom so WE should support THEM, no matter what. Whether they are gay, straight or lesbian they all deserve our support. And all of you bashing this how about you be quiet and you go fight for your own freedom next time you wanna speak your opinion.
  • by Wondering on Jul 22, 2011 at 08:10 PM
    I have no problem with peoples sexual orientation but please tell me, logistically how this will work and how many millions us tax payers are going to spend in the studies the government will conduct to figure it out?
  • by THE Truth Location: Berkeley, CA on Jul 22, 2011 at 07:27 PM
    BLAH, your apparent lack of grammar skills reflect in your rambling, narrow minded posts. Complete with childish name calling. I am so impressed.
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