They Will Serve in Silence No More

At midnight eastern time tonight (that is within a few hours from the time of this writing), the United States will finally relegate to the dustbin of history the Don't Ask, Don't Tell discriminatory policy against gay Americans being able to serve openly. It will never come back. And so, history will be made, marking another milestone in America's struggle for equal rights for all of our people: regardless of sexual orientation, color or race, national origin or religion, gender or gender identity. Beginning at midnight Eastern Time tonight, Americans who love their country enough to literally put their lives on the line will no longer be told that they are unfit to serve because they are gay.

On this occasion, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund put together a video highlighting the trial and triumph of this hard-earned victory:



This is not the end of the road for equality, by any means. Spouses and partners of our gay servicemembers will still not be able to get the benefits that all other family members are entitled to when a loved one serves, is sent to fight across the world, or makes the ultimate sacrifice for this nation of ours. For that, we will still need to repeal DOMA.

But while it's not even close to the end of the road, it's an incredible milestone. It says to young Americans thinking of service that their service to their country will no longer have to cost their silence if they are gay. It says to our military that our best and brightest have no sexual orientation. It tells America that those of us who fall in love with someone of the same sex are just as capable of standing guard.

This is a victory. It's a victory for gay servicemembers, and those gay Americans who are considering service. And it's a victory that would not have been possible without the strength, commitment, love and support of so many people: families, friends, lovers, neighbors, and yes, policy makers. The Late Sen. Ted Kennedy, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and yes, even Sen. Joe Lieberman, who stuck with us on this one and lead the Senate repeal of DADT.

But above all, this repeal would not have been possible without the steady leadership of one man: President Barack Obama. He never wavered, never gave up, never did anything at the heat of the moment to jeopardize a leguslative repeal. He held strong against misguided calls from the Left to end the policy with an executive order (leaving it to the mercy of future presidents and losing the legislative push). And he fought back against the Right wing lies that sought to degrade gay Americans. He told us during the campaign that he would be a fierce advocate and end Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Then he told us again as President:



And again, calling on Congress to get it done.



He kept his promise and signed the repeal into law:



Then he and the Joint Chiefs and the Secretary of Defense certified repeal as was required by the law. And tomorrow, DADT will be no more. Leader Pelosi put it beautifully:
America is the land of the free and the home of the brave because of our men and women in uniform. And tomorrow, we honor their service by recommitting to the values that they fight for on the battlefield.