Note: Today is a truly historic day for our nation. Just hours ago, President Obama provided the final certification necessary to end the military's 15-year-old discriminatory policy known as Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Sixty days from today, on September 20th, this policy will be the latest relic tossed on the garbage heap of anti-gay American history. The following is a note from our friends at Service Members Legal Defense Network (SLDN) on the significance of today's actions and the work ahead.
Finally, certification is issued!
Just minutes ago, the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certified to Congress that the military is ready for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). At SLDN, we join service members in celebrating this historic announcement – and in thanking you for helping us reach this important milestone along the journey to achieving LGBT equality in our military.
The final countdown to repeal begins today. In 60 days, on September 20, 2011, repeal will be final, but until then, it’s important for service members to know that it is not safe to come out. Only when the 60 days run out will service members be able to disclose their sexual orientation without risk. To see our warning to service members, click here.
So what’s next? Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is necessary, but it is not sufficient for ensuring equality. That’s why we are renewing our call on President Obama to issue an executive order prohibiting discrimination and harassment in the armed forces on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Such an order would give LGBT service members recourse outside their chain of command if they are experiencing discrimination or harassment.
Indeed, the work of advancing military equality marches forward after certification and repeal. At SLDN, we will:
- Represent and defend those who may face discrimination or harassment as we oversee implementation;
- Advocate for legally married service members to receive the same family support and benefits as their straight married counterparts;
- Litigate, when necessary and timely, to advance equality;
- Assist veterans with correcting or upgrading their discharge paperwork; and
- Fight for full LGBT equality in the military.
But today, we pause to rejoice in this historic victory, and we salute you, who kept pushing the Pentagon for this certification, telling your stories, and spreading the word. Thank you for staying in the fight with service members and SLDN. Now, let's see this all the way through.
Army Veteran and SLDN Executive Director