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July 29, 2011

‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ to end on September 20

Washington, D.C.--In less than two months, the Pentagon’s so-called “don’t ask, don’t tell” will meet its end, 18 years after being approved as a compromise measure by President Bill Clinton.

President Barack Obama certified to Congress on July 22 that the conditions have been met for repealing the law. His certification follows that of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Adm. Mike Mullen.

Certification by the three is a requirement of the repeal law passed in December.

“Now, we are 60 days away from the moment when DADT becomes history,” said Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett. “As President Obama said at last year’s signing ceremony, ‘No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie, or look over their shoulder, in order to serve the country that they love.’ ”

Jarrett continued, “Repeal also strengthens national security. As Secretary Panetta pointed out . . . patriotic Americans with valuable military experience and skills will no longer be forced out of the armed services, just for being gay or lesbian.”

“Certification does not mark the end of our work,” said Mullen. “Ready though we are, we owe it to ourselves and to the nation we defend to continue to train the remainder of the joint force, to monitor our performance as we do so, and to adjust policy where and when needed.”

The repeal legislation also called for changes to official Pentagon policies and training the military forces in the new policies. That process has been underway since early this year, and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates noted in June, just before his departure, that he expected certification in July or August.

Panetta also weighed in on repeal.

“With this certification, and in accordance with the law, on September 20, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ will be repealed,” he said. “We will have taken the time necessary to get this done right and to ensure that service members are properly trained for a change that I believe is essential to the effectiveness of our all-volunteer force.”

“This certification decision was carefully made after receiving input from the service chiefs, service secretaries and from all the combatant commanders, who stated their views that the force is prepared for this change,” he said.

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