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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Officially Consigned To history

DADT is history. The official end to don’t ask, don’t tell on September 20th is one of the most significant civil rights achievements in U.S. history. The discriminatory law is finally and formally repealed. Today, Americans in uniform will no longer have to hide their sexuality in order to serve the country.

CBS/AP reports:

After years of debate and months of final preparations, the military can no longer prevent gays from serving openly in its ranks.

Repeal of a 1993 law that allowed gays to serve only so long as they kept their sexual orientation private took effect Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. EDT.

Some in Congress still oppose the change, but top Pentagon leaders have certified that it will not undermine the military’s ability to recruit or to fight wars.

The Army was distributing a business-as-usual statement Tuesday saying simply, “The law is repealed,” and reminding soldiers to treat each other fairly.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, scheduled a Pentagon news conference for later Tuesday to field questions about the repeal. And a bipartisan group of congressional supporters of allowing openly gay service planned a news conference on Capitol Hill.

Gay advocacy groups planned a series of celebrations across the country.

President Obama has release his statement on the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:

Today, the discriminatory law known as ?Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell? is finally and formally repealed. As of today, patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love. As of today, our armed forces will no longer lose the extraordinary skills and combat experience of so many gay and lesbian service members. And today, as Commander in Chief, I want those who were discharged under this law to know that your country deeply values your service.

I was proud to sign the Repeal Act into law last December because I knew that it would enhance our national security, increase our military readiness, and bring us closer to the principles of equality and fairness that define us as Americans. Today?s achievement is 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 than two centuries, we have worked to extend America?s promise to all our citizens. Our armed forces have been both a mirror and a catalyst of that progress, and our troops, including gays and lesbians, have given their lives to defend the freedoms and liberties that we cherish as Americans. Today, every American can be proud that we have taken another great step toward keeping our military the finest in the world and toward fulfilling our

Navy Lt. Gary Ross and partner Dan Swezy get married moments after midnight in Vermont. as ‘Don’t Ask, Dont Tell’ ends The Associated Press has the story:

At midnight, just as the Pentagon began allowing gays to serve openly in the military, Navy Lt. Gary Ross and his partner of 11 years sealed their marriage vows.

The Arizona men chose Vermont for their nuptials in part because it is in the Eastern time zone.

“We feel that it’s important that as soon as we’re allowed to commit to each other that we do,” Ross said before the ceremony. “It’s important not to hide anymore.”

Hours before the change was to take effect, the American military was making final preparations for the historic policy shift. The Pentagon announced that it was already accepting applications from openly gay candidates, but officials said they would wait a day before reviewing them.

Ross, 33, and Dan Swezy, a 49-year-old civilian, both of Tucson, also chose Vermont because it was the first state to allow gays to enter into civil unions, and one of six that have legalized same-sex marriage.

As gay military ban ends, Lt. Joshua David Seefried sheds his alias, The Associated Press reports:

J.D. Smith came into being when a gay student group in upstate New York needed a speaker to talk about the U.S. military’s ban on openly gay troops. In the 16 months since then, he advised the Pentagon on the policy, became an oft-quoted media commentator on the topic and was a White House guest when President Barack Obama signed the bill paving the way for the ban’s appeal.

On Tuesday, when the 17-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy goes away, so does J.D. Smith, the name a 25-year-old Air Force officer assumed to shield his identity as he engaged in high-wire activism that could have crashed down on his career. Even if no one asks, Air Force First Lt. Joshua David Seefried is telling.

“It’s all about leading now,” Seefried told The Associated Press as he prepared to come out to his superiors, put a picture of his Air Force pilot boyfriend on his office desk and update his personal Facebook profile to reflect his sexual orientation. “Those are things I feel like I should do because I guess that is what a leader would do. If we all stay in the closet and don’t act brave, then the next generation won’t have any progress.”

At Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, Seefried works in finance, oversees a staff of 20 and is attached to the 87th Air Base Wing. Twice this year, he was set to deploy to the Middle East, and felt conflicted when his orders were canceled only because going overseas would have put J.D. Smith out of commission. A handful of friends at work know he is gay. Only one knows about OutServe, the underground network for gay military personnel he co-founded last year.

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