Ending Don't Ask Don't Tell

Today, I had one of those “once in a lifetime” moments.  As I sat in the Senate Gallery with my bosses, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina and Director of the Office of Public Engagement Tina Tchen, I saw history being made as the US Senate voted 65 to 31 to pass the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010.  I am proud of the many leaders in Congress and all those who have worked to put an end to DADT.  And I’m proud of the President for his leadership on this issue.   It has been a long time getting here and it has been a struggle – but as the President has said many times, “Change isn’t easy.” But today we took a huge step forward to set right a wrong.

Last December about this time, I was at a small event in the Roosevelt Room.  The President was just getting ready to leave for the Christmas Holiday.  He walked over to me and without missing a beat, put his hand on my shoulder, and I will never forget what he said to me – unsolicited -- “We are going to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  We have a little bit of work to do still, but we are going to get it done.”  A month later, in his first State of the Union Address, the President said, “This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.  It’s the right thing to do.”

Now I am sure that there will be many stories written about what happened and how we got here, but for me, the key part of the story that I will never forget is that commitment from the President.   Nor will I ever forget the brave men and women who have served with distinction who also happen to be gay or lesbian.  Throughout the course of this effort, I have been privileged to meet some amazing heroes who just wanted to serve their country.  I will carry their stories with me for the rest of my life.

Earlier today, The White House released a statement from President Obama on the end of Don't Ask Don't Tell,  in which he said "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."  Read the entire statement here.

Brian Bond is Deputy Director of the Office of Public Engagement
Related Topics: Civil Rights
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