Nine months after being repealed by Congress, and nearly 18 years after it was enacted, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) is no longer the law of the land and gay and lesbian servicemembers can now serve their country openly.
A letter signed by Raymond Chandler, Sergeant Major of the Army; Raymond Odierno, United Stated Army Chief of Staff; and John McHugh, Secretary of the Army reads:
Today marks the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The law is repealed. From this day forward, gay and lesbian Soldiers may serve in our Army with dignity and respect they deserve. Our rules, regulations and policies will reflect the repeal guidance issued by the Department of Defense and will apply uniformly without regard to sexual orientation, which is a personal and private matter.
For over 236 years, the U.S. Army has been an extraordinary force for good in the world. Our soldiers are the most agile, adaptable and capable warriors in history — and we are ready for this change.
Over the last several months, our Leaders, Soldiers and Department of the Army Civilians have discussed, trained and prepared for this day. The President, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs have certified that repeal is consistent with military readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion and recruiting and retention. Your professionalism, leadership and respect for your fellow Soldiers will ensure that this effort is successful.
At the heart of our success is adherence to the Army Values. These standards not only infuse every facet of our culture and operations, but also guide us as we adapt to change. Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage are not mere words to us — they are the very principles by which we live, train and fight.
Accordingly, we expect all personnel to follow our Values by implementing the repeal fully, fairly and in accordance with policy guidance. It is the duty of all personnel to treat each other with dignity and respect, while maintaining good order and discipline throughout our ranks. Doing so will help the Army remain the “Strength of the Nation.”
Many advocacy groups held countdown parties late on Monday night celebrating the repeal. “[T]hanks to the persistent hard work of unwavering advocates, especially those who have been directly impacted by this issue, and some courageous politicians over the past six years, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is now history,” Servicemembers United executive director Alex Nicholson said in a statement. “As a result, those who continue to serve can sleep easier tonight knowing that they can no longer be arbitrarily fired because of their sexual orientation. Justice has prevailed and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is dead. God bless America.”
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will hold a press conference on Tuesday afternoon to address the repeal.