Obama Signs DADT Bill to Cheers: ‘Yes We Did!’ (Video)
December 22, 2010
(ChattahBox Political News)—President Obama signed the bill repealing the 17-year old “Don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy before a rowdy, cheering and emotional crowd packed to the rafters in the Interior Department’s auditorium. As the President stood to deliver his remarks before sitting down to put his John Hancock on the bill, the crowd of lawmakers, White House and Pentagon officials, and members of our military, many of whom were discharged under the odious DADT policy, erupted into a chant of “Yes we can!” President Obama broke out into a huge grin and said, “Yes we did. This is a good day–This is a very good day.” Indeed it is.
Obama was surrounded by Congressional leaders including, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Also present were Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME), who were both instrumental in carrying the stand-alone bill to repeal DADT over the filibuster hurdle, by lobbying for the necessary Republican votes.
Also on stage with the President, were Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva the first American wounded in the war in Iraq, who also happens to be gay and Commander Zoe Dunning who came out openly as a lesbian and successfuly sued to remain in the U.S. Navy Reserves.
Obama thanked a number of lawmakers in the House who made the repeal of DADT possible, including Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Patrick Murphy (D-PA), an Iraq War veteran and tireless advocate for ending the ban on open service. When the President mentioned Murphy’s name, the crowd of military personnel in the audience erupted into cheers and honored the lawmaker, who lost his reelection bid in November, with a standing ovation.
A jubilant Obama hailed the “courage and conviction” of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, “who spoke from the heart and said what he believed was right.”
The Washington Post reports on President Obama’s remarks that cast the end of DADT as a great Civil Rights victory for America:
“Casting the repeal in terms of past civil rights struggles, Obama said he was proud to sign a law that “will strengthen our national security and uphold the ideals that our fighting men and women risk their lives to defend.”‘
“He added: “No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie.”‘
Obama noted the “added burden” carried by gay service members under the DADT policy and promised that the repeal would be implemented without delay. But he also cautioned gay military members that the law is still in place until the Pentagon institutes a series of new policies.
The law will not actually change until the Pentagon certifies to Congress that the military has met several conditions, including education and training programs for the troops.
“In the coming days, we will begin the process laid out in the law” to implement the repeal, Obama said. Meanwhile, he cautioned, “the old policy remains in place.” But he pledged that all the service chiefs are “committed to implementing this change swiftly and efficiently,” and he vowed, “We are not going to be dragging our feet to get this done.”
This is a great day in the history of our country for all Americans.