On this day in 2011, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was finally and formally repealed, allowing gay and lesbian service members to serve openly in our nation’s armed forces.
In a statement marking the anniversary, President Obama said that repealing the law "upheld the fundamental American values of fairness and equality."
"The ability of service members to be open and honest about their families and the people they love honors the integrity of the individuals who serve, strengthens the institutions they serve,” he continued, “and is one of the many reasons why our military remains the finest in the world."
President Obama signed repeal into law in December of 2010, and in July of 2011 the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certified that the Department of Defense had taken all the steps needed to prepare the military for repeal. Sixty days after that, at 12:01 a.m. on September 20, 2011, the era of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was over.
“Patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love,” the President said in a statement that day. “Our armed forces will no longer lose the extraordinary skills and combat experience of so many gay and lesbian service members.”
The President called the achievement “a tribute to all the patriots who fought and marched for change; to Members of Congress, from both parties, who voted for repeal; to our civilian and military leaders who ensured a smooth transition; and to the professionalism of our men and women in uniform who showed that they were ready to move forward together, as one team, to meet the missions we ask of them.”
For more information:
- Read President Obama’s statement on the one-year anniversary of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal
- Watch President Obama sign the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 into law
- Watch a behind the scenes video: Signing Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell
- Watch former service members reflect on what it was like to watch President Obama sign repeal into law