Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010 at 2:47 pm UTC
U.S. President Barack Obama has signed into law legislation that will allow openly homosexual people to serve in the military, calling the measure a historic milestone.
At the signing ceremony in Washington Wednesday, Mr. Obama said the repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” will strengthen national security and uphold the ideals that men and women in uniform risk their lives to defend.
He said gay Americans have fought just as hard over many generations and gave just as much to protect the nation.
Congress approved the bill last week.
Military leaders say the new policy will be implemented gradually, so current regulations can be reviewed and revised.
Under the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy, members of the military were compelled to keep their sexual orientation secret or face dismissal.
About 14,000 members of the military have been discharged since the measure was introduced in 1993 under President Bill Clinton.
Mr. Obama said no longer will men and women be forced to lie about their sexual orientation or be discharged from the military. He said no longer will the military be denied the services of many talented and brave men and women.
The repeal has faced opposition from some lawmakers, including Vietnam War veteran Republican Senator John McCain, who has said it would do great damage to the military.
A review by a Department of Defense task force concluded that the policy change would have minimal impact.
Obama Signs ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal article came from voanews.com