Earlier today, I had the opportunity to meet with a small group of openly gay and lesbian servicemembers, together with several of their partners and spouses. We celebrated the one year anniversary of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
The servicemembers represented a range of ranks and services. All of them agreed that the most remarkable aspect about their post-repeal service is that, after just one year, serving in the military without DADT feels unremarkable because the transition has been so smooth.
It should come as no surprise to any of us that the men and women of our armed forces have handled the repeal of DADT with the professionalism and class that we have come to expect from the finest fighting force in the world. As a consequence, our national security has been strengthened.
As the President said in a statement issued today, “Gay and lesbian Americans now no longer need to hide who they love in order to serve the country they love. It is a testament to the professionalism of our men and women in uniform that this change was implemented in an orderly manner, preserving unit cohesion, recruitment, retention and military effectiveness.”
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to address the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network National Dinner, and I spoke about the kind of change repeal of DADT has brought:
Thanks to the work we’ve done together, if anyone ever asks you what change is all about, you can tell them that change is finally being able to put a family photo on your desk. Change is being able to tell your coworkers what you and your loved one did over the weekend, or what you have planned for your family vacation. Change is being able to share stories about your family with fellow servicemembers while you’re away from home, and living with the fear that you may never see them again. Change is knowing that if you make that ultimate sacrifice for your country, someone will be able to notify your loved ones. That’s change.
On behalf of President Obama, I want to thank all of the servicemembers, veterans, and military families who fought for the repeal of DADT and who honor us with their service and sacrifice. We will never forget what you’ve done for America, and we are committed to making sure that we serve you as well as you have served us.