Obama signs repeal of military ban on homosexuals
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 22, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law Wednesday the repeal of the 1993 law that bans homosexuals from serving in the armed forces, amid shouts of “yes, we can.”
At the signing ceremony, the president stated, “no longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie. Or look over their shoulders in order to serve the country they love.”
This past weekend, the U.S. Senate had passed, by a 65-31 margin, a bill that repealed the law, which is commonly referred by the name of an accompanying Pentagon enforcement policy, “Don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT). The U.S. House of Representatives passed its own bill a week ago by a vote of 250 in favor to 175 against.
“Your country needs you, your country wants you, and we will be honored to welcome you into the ranks of the finest military the world has ever known,” Obama told the nation’s homosexuals.
“We are not a nation that says ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are one that says ‘Out of many, one,’ ” Obama declared before signing the bill, referring to the United States’ unofficial motto “E pluribus unum” featured on the back of U.S. coins.
The president said allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the U.S. military was a project 200 years in the making, and “will strengthen our national security.”
Opponents of repeal, such as Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness, have argued the contrary position, saying that the U.S. risks devastating its military in wartime if the findings of the Pentagon’s working group report on DADT repeal are to be taken seriously.
Donnelly stated in response to the Senate’s repeal of DADT that “cross-tabbed data displayed on the 2010 DADT Survey website indicate that among Army combat arms personnel, 21.4% would leave sooner than planned, and 14.6% would think about leaving - a total potential loss of more than a third (36%) of those valuable troops.”
“Marine combat arms would be weakened even more, with 32% of Marines saying they would leave sooner than planned, and 16.2% considering an early end to their careers, totaling almost half,” she continued. “The gradual loss of so many combat troops and what the report described as “only 12%” of families likely to decline re-enlistment could put remaining troops in greater danger, and break the All-Volunteer Force.”
Obama did add that homosexuals should not come out immediately, because the Pentagon will need at least 60 days to certify that DADT repeal will not impact the military’s troop readiness, recruitment, and retention.
Donnelly, however, has argued that given the impact on retention of combat troops recorded by the working group study, neither President Obama, nor Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, nor Defense Secretary Robert Gates, should certify DADT’s repeal. The law passed by Congress states that repeal may only be implemented once all three have signed off on certification.
CBS News reports that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) unsuccessfully tried to attach an amendment to the defense authorization bill passed by the U.S. Senate last night, that would have made the military chiefs part of the certification process for DADT repeal. Most of the military chiefs were opposed to repeal, especially Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos.
McConnell attempted to have the amendment included by unanimous consent, but Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), a DADT repeal advocate, objected to its inclusion in the defense spending bill. Had it been included, the opposition of the military chiefs might have delayed, perhaps indefinitely, certification of DADT repeal.