Reactions from the three individuals who would have to certify in the future that the DADT repeal can be performed safely:
Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote:
"I welcome today's vote by the Senate clearing the way for a legislative repeal of the 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' law.
"Once this legislation is signed into law by the President, the Department of Defense will immediately proceed with the planning necessary to carry out this change carefully and methodically, but purposefully. This effort will be led by Dr. Clifford Stanley, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and himself a retired Marine Corps major general and infantry officer."
"The legislation provides that repeal will take effect once the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that implementation of the new policies and regulations written by the Department is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces. As I have stated before, I will approach this process deliberately and will make such certification only after careful consultation with the military service chiefs and our combatant commanders and when I am satisfied that those conditions have been met for all the Services, commands and units."
"It is therefore important that our men and women in uniform understand that while today's historic vote means that this policy will change, the implementation and certification process will take an additional period of time. In the meantime, the current law and policy will remain in effect."
"Successful implementation will depend upon strong leadership, a clear message and proactive education throughout the force. With a continued and sustained commitment to core values of leadership, professionalism and respect for all, I am convinced that the U.S. military can successfully accommodate and implement this change, as it has others in history." 1
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen,
"I am pleased to see the Congress vote to repeal the law governing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' Handling this through legislation preserves the military's prerogative to implement change in a responsible, deliberate manner."
"More critically, it is the right thing to do. No longer will able men and women who want to serve and sacrifice for their country have to sacrifice their integrity to do so. We will be a better military as a result."
"I look forward to working with Secretary Gates and the Service chiefs as we set about the task of preparing and certifying the joint force to implement the new law. And I am committed to making sure that process is well-led, maintains our combat readiness and upholds our high standards." 2
President Obama said: "As commander in chief, I am also absolutely convinced that making this change will only underscore the professionalism of our troops as the best led and best trained fighting force the world has ever known." 3
He also issued a statement that said in part: "It is time to close this chapter in our history. 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." 4
Reactions from reporters, Congress members, victims of DADT, conservative Christian groups, etc:
A year earlier, the Center for Military Readiness published an article derived from the Congressional Quarterly Researcher magazine on 2009-SEP-18. 5 It listed the militaries of other countries that have allowed lesbians, gays and bisexuals to openly serve: "Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, (excepting the elite Foreign Legion), Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Uruguay." They concluded that:
"Congress is being asked to impose a risky military social experiment that is duplicated nowhere in the world.Â Instead, members of Congress should assign priority to national security, putting the needs of our military first."
In their list of countries that allow homosexuals to openly serve, they left out many countries, some of which have very large armies: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Bermuda, Canada, China, Colombia, Germany, Greece, Israel, Japan, Malta, Netherlands, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, and the UK. 6
Carl Hulse of the New York Times wrote: "The vote marked a historic moment that some equated with the end of racial segregation in the military. It followed a review by the Pentagon that found little concern in the military about lifting the ban and was backed by Pentagon officials as a better alternative to a court-ordered end."
As the debate opened, Senator Ron Wyden, (D-OR), said: â€œI donâ€™t care who you love. If you love this country enough to risk your life for it, you shouldnâ€™t have to hide who you are."
Aubrey Sarvis, an Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said: "Todayâ€™s vote means gay and lesbian service members posted all around the world can stand taller knowing that 'donâ€™t ask, donâ€™t tell' will soon be coming to an end."
Senator John McCain, (R-AZ) said the vote was a sad day in history" "I hope that when we pass this legislation that we will understand that we are doing great damage. And we could possibly and probably, as the commandant of the Marine Corps said, and as I have been told by literally thousands of members of the military, harm the battle effectiveness vital to the survival of our young men and women in the military."
Senator James M. Inhofe, (R-OK) said: "This [policy] isnâ€™t broke. It is working very well."
Senator Saxby Chambliss, (R-GA): "In the middle of a military conflict, is not the time to do it."
Senator Carl Levin, (D-MI), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, ignored Republican accusations that the Democrats were trying to rush through this bill in order to satisfy their supporters. He said: "Iâ€™m not here for partisan reasons. Iâ€™m here because men and women wearing the uniform of the United States who are gay and lesbian have died for this country, [and] because gay and lesbian men and women wearing the uniform of this country have their lives on the line right now." 3
Margaret Witt was dismissed from McChord Air Force Base in 2004 for "homosexual conduct" in spite of exemplary service as a flight nurse. During 2010-SEP, she won a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Tacoma that declared the DADT policy to be unconstitutional. This ruling put pressure on Congress to repeal the DADT policy. She said:
Iâ€™m proud of the country. Iâ€™m proud of my service. Iâ€™m proud of all those who continue to serve every day. This should give them new motivation to serve with honor and dignity."
Commenting on the words of Senators Patty Murray, Joyce Foster, and others, during the debate on DADT, she said:
"Those were the words weâ€™ve needed to hear for so long. To hear the senators speak as they did, I sincerely wish that those who came before me could have heard them. All of those who have been serving in silence should be standing a little bit taller today. I hope theyâ€™re feeling that sense of pride that they so deserve. Second-class citizenship, in this country, is pretty hard to take." 7
Margarethe â€œGretheâ€ Cammermeyer was discharged from the Washington National Guard in 1992 because of her sexual orientation. This happened a few months before DADT was introduced, at a time when anyone who was outed as a lesbian or gay was automatically discharged. She sued in federal court that ruled in 1994 that the ban on gays and lesbians was unconstitutional. She was reinstated and finished a 21.5 year career and retired as a colonel. In 1995, Glenn Close played Cammermeyer in a TV movie called "Serving in Silence." When asked whether she had been watching the Senate debate, she said:
"Do you mean, â€˜Have I been paying attention to my day of being vindicated? Yes. I spent today glued to the television. This is probably â€¦ no, this IS the most exciting day of my life."
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) had led the opposition to repealing DADT. He acknowledged, just before the final vote was taken, that he was unable to stop its passage. He blamed what he called elite liberals with no military experience for pushing their social agenda on troops during wartime. He said that servicemembers: "... will do what is asked of them. But don't think there won't be a great cost." 4
Aaron Belkin is the director of the Palm Center, a research institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He said the vote: "... ushers in a new era in which the largest employer in the United States treats gays and lesbians like human beings." 8
Sue Fulton is a former Army captain and company commander, and a current spokesperson for Knights Out, a group of 92 lesbian and gay graduates of West Point who are no longer serving.
She feels that passage of the bill will have a significant impact on the battle for equality being fought by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual persons. She said: "As more people realize that gay and lesbian citizens are risking their lives to defend this country, perhaps they'll be more willing to acknowledge gays and lesbians as full citizens in other ways." 8
Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, said: "The issue that really disturbs me more than anything else is that legislation that's controversial tends to be done in lame-duck sessions when a number of the elected representatives are no longer accountable to the people." 8
Mathew Staver, on behalf the Freedom Federation, a federation of fundamentalist and other evangelical Christian groups, issued a statement concerning the passage of DADT:
"Our armed forces should take heart, because the American people will not turn its back on you. This vote happened because opportunistic Senators â€“ only days before Christmas â€“ put political interest groups above supporting our men and women in uniform."
"This action will be overturned in the next Congress because it breaks the bond of trust that must exist between the military and those who command in the Pentagon and Congress. Todayâ€™s vote will prove as costly to its proponents as ObamaCare was to its advocates. We promise a full mobilization of faith-based and policy organizations, veterans, and military families in the states of every Senator who voted for repeal of DADT against the advice of our service chiefs and during a time of war. Those Senators â€“ and the Pentagon leaders responsible for this breach of trust â€“ should understand that they will be the object of concerted political action against them." 9
Rob Carson, "17-year ban to end: Gay-rights pioneers Witt, Cammermeyer salute end of 'don't ask'," The News Tribune, 2010-DEC-18, at: http://www.thenewstribune.com
Verena Dobnik, "Gays see repeal as a civil rights milestone," Associated Press, 2010-DEC-19, at: http://news.yahoo.com/ Within the fist ten hours online, 4,007 comments were posted to this report by readers.
Mathew Staver, "Freedom Federation Pledges Full Mobilization on Behalf of 40 Million Americans to Overturn DADT Repeal," Liberty Counsel, 2010-DEC-18, at: http://www.lc.org/