Sunday, December 19, 2010

Statements on the Repeal of DADT

President Hails Vote to Repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Law

Dec. 18, 2010 – President Barack Obama hailed the Senate’s vote today to repeal the law that banned gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military and expressed confidence the Defense Department can institute the new policy while maintaining military strength and readiness.

The Senate, during a rare Saturday session, voted 65 to 31 to overturn the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that’s been in effect since 1993.

“The Senate has taken an historic step toward ending a policy that undermines our national security while violating the very ideals that our brave men and women in uniform risk their lives to defend,” Obama said in a statement issued after the Senate voted earlier today to break a filibuster and move forward to a vote on the bill.

“By ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay,” the president said. “And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love.”

Obama said he’s “absolutely convinced” that repeal of the law will underscore the professionalism of the world’s best-led and best-trained fighting force.

“And I join the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the overwhelming majority of servicemembers asked by the Pentagon, in knowing we can responsibly transition to a new policy while ensuring our military strength and readiness,” he said.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and other military leaders repeatedly expressed a preference for legislative action – which they said would permit an orderly transition for the military – over having the law struck down by a court, requiring immediate compliance with the change and possibly creating different rules in different places.

Following the House’s passage of the repeal Dec. 15, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said a congressional vote would enable the Defense Department to “carefully and responsibly manage a change in this policy instead of risking an abrupt change resulting from a decision in the courts.”

Defense officials said yesterday they were preparing for the law’s passage. Clifford L. Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, is expected to issue a memo to inform the department of the change and explain timelines for its implementation.

Obama said today’s decision recognizes that it’s time to close one chapter in U.S. history and open another. “It is time to recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender, religion or creed,” he said. “It is time to allow gay and lesbian Americans to serve their country openly.”

Statement by Secretary Robert Gates on Senate Vote to Repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

December 18, 2010 - “I welcome today’s vote by the Senate clearing the way for a legislative repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ law.

“Once this legislation is signed into law by the President, the Department of Defense will immediately proceed with the planning necessary to carry out this change carefully and methodically, but purposefully. This effort will be led by Dr. Clifford Stanley, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and himself a retired Marine Corps major general and infantry officer.

“The legislation provides that repeal will take effect once the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that implementation of the new policies and regulations written by the Department is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces. As I have stated before, I will approach this process deliberately and will make such certification only after careful consultation with the military service chiefs and our combatant commanders and when I am satisfied that those conditions have been met for all the Services, commands and units.

“It is therefore important that our men and women in uniform understand that while today’s historic vote means that this policy will change, the implementation and certification process will take an additional period of time. In the meantime, the current law and policy will remain in effect.

“Successful implementation will depend upon strong leadership, a clear message and proactive education throughout the force. With a continued and sustained commitment to core values of leadership, professionalism and respect for all, I am convinced that the U.S. military can successfully accommodate and implement this change, as it has others in history.”

Statement by Adm. Mike Mullen on Senate Vote to Repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

December 18, 2010 - "I am pleased to see the Congress vote to repeal the law governing ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell.’ Handling this through legislation preserves the military's prerogative to implement change in a responsible, deliberate manner.

“More critically, it is the right thing to do. No longer will able men and women who want to serve and sacrifice for their country have to sacrifice their integrity to do so. We will be a better military as a result.

“I look forward to working with Secretary Gates and the Service chiefs as we set about the task of preparing and certifying the joint force to implement the new law. And I am committed to making sure that process is well-led, maintains our combat readiness and upholds our high standards."

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