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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid