News / USA

Obama: 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal 'A Historic Milestone'

President Barack Obama signs the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 with, from left, Commander Zoe Dunning, Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., at the Interior Department in Washington, Dec 22, 2010
President Barack Obama signs the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 with, from left, Commander Zoe Dunning, Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., at the Interior Department in Washington, Dec 22, 2010

Multimedia

Audio
Kent Klein

President Barack Obama is ending the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that bars homosexuals from serving openly in the U.S. armed forces. The president has signed legislation repealing the 17-year-old policy.

The president fulfilled one of his 2008 campaign promises by signing a bill to overturn a policy that requires gay and lesbian service members to keep their sexuality quiet.

"So this morning I am proud to sign a law that will bring an end to 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' said Obama. "This law I am about to sign will strengthen our national security, and uphold the ideals that our fighting men and women risk their lives to defend."

The repeal passed the Senate last Saturday, after winning approval in the House of Representatives a few days earlier.

Watch related video

Public-opinion polls in recent months have shown a growing percentage of Americans support allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly. Several Republicans in Congress crossed party lines to support the repeal, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, recently spoke in favor of overturning the policy.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James Amos, is one of a number of military leaders who have said they favor keeping "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in place. Amos said allowing gays to serve openly would be a distraction to other troops. Since the repeal passed the Senate, though, the commandant has said he will abide by the change.

The president cautioned service members the repeal does not take effect immediately. Obama said the old policy stands until he, Secretary Gates, and Chairman Mullen certify the military's readiness to implement the repeal.

"But I have spoken to every one of the service chiefs, and they are all committed to implementing this change swiftly and efficiently. We are not going to be dragging our feet to get this done ... "

Shortly after the signing, White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs said certification would take place within months.

Gay rights groups have criticized Obama for not pushing harder for the repeal.

Before signing the bill, the president said the repeal is a tribute to those he called "patriots," who were forced to hang up their uniforms because of the policy.

"For we are not a nation that says, 'Don't ask, don't tell.' We are a nation that says, 'Out of many, we are one.' We are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot. We are a nation that believes that all men and women are created equal."

President Bill Clinton implemented the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in 1993, as a compromise intended to stop gay men and lesbians from being expelled from the military for their sexual orientation.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More