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“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is history

Don't Ask Don't Tell

By Adam Bink

As of now, the policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is finally a memory. At the stroke of midnight, the policy ended, approximately 9 months after Congress voted to repeal it and the President signed that repeal into law.


The proudest memory I have in this fight is working with the Courage team and all of you at Prop8TrialTracker…sharing information on the whip count, reporting back after calls to Senators, pushing back on mis-information. I took a trip down memory lane through some past coverage and thought you’d like to join. Some highlights from late in the fight:

The comments are just so much fun to read back through. What a mighty force we were, together, pushing this thing home. Just like in New York State on marriage equality, we kept pushing and pushing and pushing until it was finished.

And to all the servicemembers who served in silence, or who took a stand and stood up, thank you for both your service and your courage. It took courage to do either, and you helped get a nation to pay attention to this injustice.

For more coverage, here’s the link to all the posts on that topic.

Let’s close with three stats. Those numbers are 5,730; 226,779; and 723,145.

Those are the numbers of phone calls Courage members and P8TTers made to Senators; letters we wrote to family and friends; and signatures delivered in support of repeal. Truly remarkable. And when compared with other allied member organizations, bloggers, blog readers and folks in Congress carrying the banner high like Patrick Murphy, we could do anything.

The fight pivots to repealing the Defense of Marriage Act. We need your help to do that. Right now, servicemembers can serve openly and honestly, but a lesbian Air Force servicemember cannot obtain health insurance for her spouse. The spouse of a gay Marine does not receive survivor benefits if his husband dies in the line of duty. They serve their country, but don’t get what should be coming down them. They’re still treated as second-class servicemembers. That’s where we come in. We repealed one law after a long push. And we can do it again.

This is an open thread for coverage of this proud day.

Update: A wonderful piece from former Rep. Patrick Murphy on Huffington Post, and a wonderful profile in the NYTimes on JD Smith, now better known as Josh, who is able to be open about his identity and his work with OutServe.

Update 2: Statement from President Obama:

Office of the Press Secretary
September 20, 2011

Statement by the President 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 nation’s founding ideals.


Update 3: A transcript of today’s news conference with Secretary Panetta and Admiral Mullen on DADT and other topics.

Update 4: In response to today’s events, the government filed a suggestion of mootness and motion to dismiss the complain in the LCR v. USA case.


  • 1. JonT  |  September 19, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Yay! DADT is finally over! 🙂

  • 2. Ronnie  |  September 19, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Subscribing & sharing…….

    Michelle Obama Welcomes Gay Families to National Military Initiative

    “The First Lady and Dr. Biden will continue to recognize and honor the families of all service members, as they have been doing since the beginning of Joining Forces,” Kristina Schake, Mrs. Obama's communications director, said in a statement to The Advocate.

    “After the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell takes effect, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden look forward to including openly gay and lesbian service members in events to recognize their service to the nation, as well as the service of their families,” Schake said.

    & I know I posted this on the previous thread but I'll post the video again on this thread……The Anonymous soldier who has been documenting his coming out process & counting down the days until DADT is dead has released a new heart wrenching edge of your seat video. (Hint: tissues next to your computer, iPad, smart phone, etc. while you watch this will come in handy.) ……. <3…Ronnie:

    "Telling my dad that I am gay-LIVE":
    [youtube DVAgz6iyK6A&feature=feedu youtube]

  • 3. JonT  |  September 19, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    'I know I posted this on the previous thread ..'

    Keep posting away Ronnie. An amazing video.

  • 4. loaferguy  |  September 19, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Been following this young man's story on his YouTube channel for the past several months. Congratulations to him and to all who may now serve openly in the military!

  • 5. DaveP  |  September 19, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Wow, that video is a hit. Over 500 comments in the past couple of hours!

  • 6. jpmassar  |  September 19, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    DADT is Dead by Scott Wooledge, one of the 13 who protested on the White House fence ten months ago.

  • 7. Ann S.  |  September 19, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    Ding dong, DADT is dead!!

  • 8. Alan_Eckert  |  September 19, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    I think the appropriate song is "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead." One witch may dead, but there is another one still looming.

  • 9. dtwirling  |  September 20, 2011 at 7:53 am

    It may be more apt to say "Ding, Dong, the WITCH HUNT is Dead!" 😉

    Kudos to all the brave men and women in uniform and their spouses/partners who had to keep silent all these years.

  • 10. DaveP  |  September 19, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    I remember a few years ago when I was meeting a friend at the airport and we saw several arriving service members being reunited with their loved ones once they got beyond the security area. Lots of smiles and hugs and joy. My friend pointed out the ones who were alone, and he wondered how many of them had no one to meet them because they were gay. The gay service members had to walk past their fellow service members who were embracing their spouses, walk through the airport alone and ride a bus or train alone, and wait until they were hidden behind closed doors to hold their loved one. Meeting their partner at the airport could destroy their career.

    Something that should be so joyous as a reunion with the one they loved was being withheld from them and was being disrespected by our own government. But starting today, that never has to happen again.

  • 11. Ronnie  |  September 19, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Navy officer, partner get married moments after midnight in Vt. as ‘don’t ask’ policy ends

    "When Navy Lt. Gary Ross and his partner were searching for a place to get married, they settled on a site in Vermont, in part because the state is in the Eastern time zone.

    That way, the two men were able to recite their vows before family and friends at the first possible moment after the formal repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Just after midnight Tuesday, the partners of 11 years were married."

    (me) SWEET!!!!!!!….. Congratulations to the happy couple & thank you, thank you, thank you for your service…. <3…Ronnie

  • 12. FlexSF  |  September 19, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Wow, maybe America is turning into a better place?

  • 13. _BK_  |  September 20, 2011 at 5:51 am

    And maybe, just maybe, the world is turning into a better place along with it. 🙂

  • 14. Ronnie  |  September 19, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    I Am a Gay Airman
    Sep 19, 2011 11:30 AM EDT
    Today 'don't ask, don't tell' officially ends—and I, along with untold numbers of other gay service members, can finally defend my country without hiding who I am. By Josh Seefried.

    "One month ago, under a pseudonym, the author wrote about his experiences serving in the United States Air Force as a gay military member under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Today, on the day the policy officially ends, he reveals his identity.

    My name is Josh Seefried. I am a gay first lieutenant in the United States Air Force, and for the past two years I have been known as “JD Smith.”….."

    (me) All of the anonymous service members whose courageous stories we have been following or waiting to hear/read about are stepping out of the shadows….. Thank you for your service First Lieutenant Josh Seefried…… <3…Ronnie

  • 15. Alan_Eckert  |  September 19, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    Best quote:

    Most soldiers probably knew the date of Sept. 20 more for the season premiere of Glee than for the date DADT finally died.

  • 16. Sagesse  |  September 20, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Interview with Josh Seefried

    Firsthand Experience of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

    And from the NYT

    Out and Proud to Serve

  • 17. Alan_Eckert  |  September 19, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    another coming out video! [youtube LGBpqn9T3VA youtube]

  • 18. Alan_Eckert  |  September 19, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    Celebrating the end of DADT in Washington, D.C.

    [youtube tWXrnB3YfRg youtube]

  • 19. Alan_Eckert  |  September 20, 2011 at 12:00 am

    A positive news story that interviewed a lesbian couple (one of whom is filming the TV on her phone) on Sept 19.

    [youtube iwmGBMF7UoU youtube]

  • 20. Str8Guy  |  September 20, 2011 at 4:10 am

    "The spouse of a gay retired Marine does not receive survivor benefits after his husband passes away."

    They wouldnt anyway. Survivor benefits are for those whose military other was KIA while on active duty or in the reserves. Retirees are not eligible.

  • 21. loaferguy  |  September 20, 2011 at 4:15 am

    PICTURES & MORE: Star-Studded Premiere of Prop. 8 Trial Play Wows Sold-Out Broadway Audience.

  • 22. loaferguy  |  September 20, 2011 at 4:37 am

    Presenting The Army’s OFFICIAL Letter Announcing The End Of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

  • 23. Sagesse  |  September 20, 2011 at 4:53 am

    Ed O'Keefe at the Washington Post has been following this all along.

    ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ officially ending

  • 24. Sagesse  |  September 20, 2011 at 5:06 am

    Washington Post opinion column from a Marine officer.

    When will Marine leadership stand up for gay service members?

  • 25. Sagesse  |  September 20, 2011 at 5:11 am

    The repeal of DADT is historic. The first of two federal laws that actively discriminate(d) against Americans based on their sexual orientation has been repealed. DOMA is next. It is under pressure because of its effect on military families, because of its effect on bi-national couples, and in court cases.

    Great day :).

  • 26. Tasty Salamanders  |  September 20, 2011 at 6:29 am

    Really this day may mark a turning point on DOMA too, seeing as its effects on military families will now be exposed like never before.

  • 27. ĶĭŗîļĺęΧҲΪ  |  September 20, 2011 at 5:20 am

    Oh, happy day!

  • 28. Gregory in SLC  |  September 20, 2011 at 5:49 am

    @ work, watching, reading, crying.. indeed a Happy Day!

  • 29. Ronnie  |  September 20, 2011 at 6:58 am

    101 Faces of Courage
    The following 101 photos represent the approximately 70,000 currently serving LGBT military personnel. We serve in every country, in every conflict, and in every career field. We serve because we are committed to our country. We serve to protect those we love. We serve because we are dedicated to this self-evident truth — that all men are created equal. This is who we are:

    (me) I love it….. <3…Ronnie

  • 30. Ronnie  |  September 20, 2011 at 7:18 am

    LGBT History…..

    The History of DADT: The Covers
    "Click on the following pages to see how The Advocate handled the DADT issue in 12 covers over the years."

    & Military fairness: A tale of two Septembers

    Jeremy points out two September articles from the Associate Press about DADT. The first from 1975 about Technical Sgt. Leonard Matlovich. The second article is from the present, 36 years later, about the end of DADT.

    "WASHINGTON (AP) — After years of debate and months of final preparations, the military can no longer prevent gays from serving openly in its ranks. "


  • 31. Ronnie  |  September 20, 2011 at 7:34 am

    President Obama's Statement on End 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."

    "President Obama repeals "Don't Ask Don't Tell" – DADT Ends September 20, 2011 – Veterans speak" (VIDEO)…….. <3…Ronnie:
    [youtube cK7QEJGwvJM youtube]

  • 32. loaferguy  |  September 20, 2011 at 7:38 am

    Hope she enjoyed the show!!!

    Anti-Gay NOM Activist Maggie Gallagher Attends Staged Broadway Benefit for Team Challenging Proposition 8

  • 33. FlexSF  |  September 20, 2011 at 8:16 am

    This is wild. Anyone familiar with "Arts of the Contact Zone" by Mary Louise Pratt should indulge in this scenario. This is a wild, in your face, asymmetrical example of a clash of culture.

  • 34. Sam_Handwich  |  September 20, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Ms. Gallagher brought a large plastic bag of loud food, which she rustled and munched throughout the production

    She's morphed into a caricature of herself.

  • 35. Sagesse  |  September 20, 2011 at 9:27 am

    The woman has no couth.

  • 36. Sheryl_Carver  |  September 20, 2011 at 10:02 am

    If I recall correctly, she was reprimanded during the trial for taking her shoes off & propping her feet up on the rail.

    On another site, some commenters thought that she was trying to get herself tossed out or otherwise cause a scene. Personally, I think Sagesse is correct, she just has no couth.

  • 37. dwpiper  |  September 20, 2011 at 10:26 am

    The best quote from the article, in my opinion:

    The one bright spot is that Gallagher, who presumably purchased her ticket, is now officially a supporter of the American Foundation for Equal Rights.

  • 38. AnonyGrl  |  September 20, 2011 at 10:51 am

    That is my FAVORITE part. I would also LOVE to know if a petty cash reciept for the cost of her ticket shows up in NOM's bookkeeping, making NOM the supporter.

    I am not surprised she munched her way through the show, as she was obviously there to draw attention to herself. I am glad that she didn't get all that much.

    Oh, and diabetes does NOT require you to eat nonstop. If Maggie was having a low blood sugar issue, she could easily have had a glass of juice, or a glucose tablet quietly before the show and taken care of it. And if her condition was more serious than that, she should be in a hospital, not a theatre.

    I admit that I often call others out about picking on her, but she insulted MY art form, so… what a cow.

  • 39. DaveP  |  September 20, 2011 at 11:34 am

    And I really hope she felt terribly uncomfortable throughout the evening, being surrounded and outnumbered by… you know.. those 'theater people' : )

  • 40. Carol  |  September 20, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Deliberately making herself a figure of ridicule. That's the first step in making herself irrelevant, notwithstanding all the money she raises.

  • 41. LCH  |  September 20, 2011 at 7:40 am

    Happy Repeal Day everyone!

  • 42. Seth from Maryland  |  September 20, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Marriage Equality Bill May Make Reappearance in the NJ Senate

    Read more:

    very proud to see the end of dadt, and it looks like the battle in NJ this year is not over

  • 43. Ronnie  |  September 20, 2011 at 10:09 am

    "I actually never thought I'd live long enough to this day, but here it is, and in a firm voice, I would just like to say, about 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', good riddance!" ~ 88yo gay World War II veteran Jack Strouss at a ceremony in Atlanta's Piedmont Park organized by the American Veterans for Equal Rights (VIDEO)…….. <3…Ronnie:
    [youtube BeH-6b40kw8 youtube]

  • 44. Ronnie  |  September 20, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Army Officer Comes Out as a Lesbian on MSNBC as Thomas Roberts Covers End of 'DADT': VIDEO

    "I'm finally proud to announce publicly that I am a lesbian…I'm able to now share my family. I have a four-year-old daughter but I also have a same-sex spouse. We have a civil union of almost 11 years and I have not been able until today to actually share my family. My complete family. I am able to put on my desk our family photo and actually share my family with the collegaues I deployed with." ~ U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan


  • 45. AnonyGrl  |  September 20, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    All these coming out stories are bringing tears to my eyes. Sorrow that these lovely people have had to hide for so very long, and joy that they can now share their families with their co-workers and friends in the military.

    It really IS a good day, and has been a pretty darned good week for us, don't you think? I am glad we get these sorts of weeks from time to time, they really help to bolster us through the rough patches.


  • 46. Ronnie  |  September 20, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Lawrence O'Donnell – Dan Savage On DADT Repeal & Michele Bachmann (VIDEO)…… <3…Ronnie:
    [youtube 2WYWY3fnTlo youtube]

  • 47. DaveP  |  September 20, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    HA!! I just LOVE the story title graphics they displayed on the show at the beginning of the piece:

    DADT – The End of an Error

    : )

  • 48. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  September 20, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    This morning was rather emotional for my husband. As we sipped our morning coffee and watched the news stories about the final repeal of DADT, Robert teared up……he said he was thinking of all the guys he knew over the years who were either discharged or chose to leave rather than take the chance of being found out…and some who just refused to lie about who they were and left on their own terms.
    Robert has always been so afraid that the 24+ years he put in would be trashed if they ever found out about him/us. And as of today he can relax….his retirement is secure, his service now fully appreciated.
    (rot in pieces, NOT rest in peace)

  • 49. DaveP  |  September 20, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    This is wonderful. Great to hear that these weights are being lifted from the shoulders of all these Americans who serve this country. Be sure to give Robert an extra hug from all of us and tell him I said THANK YOU for all he has done for us.

  • 50. Ronnie  |  September 20, 2011 at 4:46 pm


    Hundreds of service members discharged under DADT expected to reenlist

    & (VIDEO) "The End of DADT – A Gay Soldier's Story" from Sean Chapin ….. Video Description: "With DADT finally gone, a gay soldier comes out a year after sending me an anonymous letter asking me to share his story. Jesse, thank you for your service to our country."

    [youtube G-cGm_5IGfE youtube]

  • 51. Martin Pal  |  September 21, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I remember being involved in the street protests against DADT when Clinton ushered it in back in 1993. So long ago. I cannot forgive him for allowing that to happen when, with a stroke of his pen back then, he could have just ordered it done.

    Yesterday was momentous. Truly. I remember it. I savor it.

    One of the added bonuses to the DADT repeal is hearing all the stories of the men and women who had to serve under it, not just contemporaries, but those from the past as well. The stories that could not be told can now be told. I hope they all find the time to tell them, write them, show them.


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