Glued to debt-ceiling business, we missed LGBT equality advances

New theory. The whole debt-ceiling fight has been a political ploy by the White House to divert attention from its decision to support a Senate measure that would repeal the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act and its announcement today that the Pentagon had certified the repeal of the anti-gay "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Oh, and heat indexes are government conspiracies to make you feel hotter. Here's the White House statement:

Statement by the President on Certification of Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Today, we have taken the final major step toward ending the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law that undermines our military readiness and violates American principles of fairness and equality.  In accordance with the legislation that I signed into law last December, I have certified and notified Congress that the requirements for repeal have been met.  ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will end, once and for all, in 60 days—on September 20, 2011.

As Commander in Chief, I have always been confident that our dedicated men and women in uniform would transition to a new policy in an orderly manner that preserves unit cohesion, recruitment, retention and military effectiveness.  Today’s action follows extensive training of our military personnel and certification by Secretary Panetta and Admiral Mullen that our military is ready for repeal.  As of September 20th, service members will no longer be forced to hide who they are in order to serve our country.  Our military will no longer be deprived of the talents and skills of patriotic Americans just because they happen to be gay or lesbian.

I want to commend our civilian and military leadership for moving forward in the careful and deliberate manner that this change requires, especially with our nation at war.  I want to thank all our men and women in uniform, including those who are gay or lesbian, for their professionalism and patriotism during this transition.  Every American can be proud that our extraordinary troops and their families, like earlier generations that have adapted to other changes, will only grow stronger and remain the best fighting force in the world and a reflection of the values of justice and equality that the define us as Americans.

Here's some response from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

"Today marks the final critical strike against 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,’ a policy whose demise can’t come fast enough. Eighteen years of witch hunts under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ have cost thousands of exemplary service members their careers, once again proving there are very personal and costly consequences of discrimination. People from every background, every faith, every community across the country know that qualified, patriotic Americans willing to risk their lives by serving in the military should be able to do so free from discrimination. They know our entire country benefits when fairness prevails, when service members no longer have to fear being targeted by their own government, when courageous men and women are able to serve openly and honestly. We again thank all those who fought for and supported an end to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ — they truly are on the right side of history.”

And a statement from the Center for American Progress:

“For nearly 18 years, DADT has weakened our national security and wasted resources by discharging more than 14,000 service members from our armed forces, many of whom had critical language and technical skills. The policy forced gay people to live a lie if they wanted to serve their country and in an institution whose core values include integrity and honesty.

We hope that a certification announcement by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will be followed by President Obama's certification and we are grateful for their tremendous work on this issue, alongside members of both parties in Congress. We also want to acknowledge the professionalism with which service members – gay and straight – have handled the repeal training. It is a testament to their character, and we are grateful for their service.”


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