Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Pakistan Protests: Democracy put the test (Part One)

Read more

ENCORE!

The French Maestro of Soul

Read more

FOCUS

US tobacco giants want lion's share of e-cigarette business

Read more

ENCORE!

Bold and bonkers: Kate Bush is back on stage

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Simon Serfaty, US foreign policy specialist

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'It's a War, Stupid!'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

French PM calls on ECB to go further to help economy

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'I love the Socialists'

Read more

WEB NEWS

Ukraine: Web users call for international assistance

Read more

  • Ukrainian forces retreat from Luhansk airport after clashes

    Read more

  • Teddy Riner, France’s unstoppable judo champion

    Read more

  • French education ministry picture sparks racist abuse

    Read more

  • French police arrest hungry hedgehog hunters

    Read more

  • US urges Israel to reverse West Bank land seizure

    Read more

  • UN backs inquiry of IS group’s alleged crimes in Iraq

    Read more

  • Tripoli under control of militias, says government

    Read more

  • Iraqi forces free Amerli in biggest victory over IS militants since June

    Read more

  • Monaco’s Falcao set for Man Utd loan on transfer deadline day

    Read more

  • Spain orders custody for parents of ill British boy

    Read more

  • Anti-government protesters storm Pakistan's state TV

    Read more

  • Putin calls for talks on 'statehood' for east Ukraine

    Read more

  • Poland marks 75 years since German invasion of WWII

    Read more

  • Israel appropriates large tracts of West Bank land

    Read more

  • Rescue efforts under way after French apartment block blast

    Read more

  • Web doc on French self-immolation protests takes top prize

    Read more

Americas

Obama signs historic law repealing 'don't ask, don't tell'

Video by Guillaume MEYER

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-12-23

US President Barack Obama signed a historic law on Wednesday repealing the US military’s "don't ask, don't tell" policy, fulfilling a campaign promise to allow gays to openly serve in the armed forces.

AFP - President Barack Obama Wednesday signed a law allowing gays to serve openly in the military, repealing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in a sweeping and historic shift for the US armed forces.
              
"We are not a nation that says 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' We are a nation that says, 'Out of many, we are one,'" Obama said in a raucous and emotive ceremony at the Interior Department in Washington.
              

"No longer will our country be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans who are forced to leave the military"

"We are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot," Obama said.
              
The signing ceremony reconciled a promise from Obama's 2008 campaign, and followed a political and moral crusade by activists, and years of opposition from conservatives and some sectors of the military establishment.
              
The change in policy, which rights activists have compared to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the integration of the military in 1948 and the great civil rights legislation of the 1960s, will not be enacted overnight, however.
              
Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen must certify that lifting the ban on gays serving openly can be done without harming readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruitment.
              
Once the certification is made, the change will enter into force within 60 days.
              
Opponents say the repeal will badly harm unit cohesion at a time when US forces are embroiled in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ultimately denigrate US security.
              
But Obama argued the new law would "strengthen our national security and uphold the ideals that our fighting men and women risk their lives to defend.
              
"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."
              
As Obama arrived on stage, members of the audience chanted "Yes We Can" -- his 2008 campaign slogan, and the president, enjoying a late rebound after a brutal political year, answered "Yes, We did."
              
The president and his political aides may be hoping that the signing ceremony will go some way to repair his tattered ties with grass roots liberal activists dismayed by his recent tax compromise with Republicans.
              
Obama paid tribute to Washington politicians who helped to change the law, but reserved special praise for key members of the military establishment that were instrumental in advancing the repeal.
              
"I am confident that history will remember well the courage and the vision of Secretary Gates," said Obama, who also praised Mullen for speaking from his heart on a difficult political issue.
              
"As Admiral Mike Mullen has said, 'Our people sacrifice a lot for their country, including their lives. None of them should have to sacrifice their integrity, as well.'"
              
Obama, acting in his role as commander in chief, also said that he was confident that the military would responsibly implement the policy change.
              
In the years since the ban was enacted as a compromise, some 13,000 US troops have been ousted, and critics have pointed out that many were trained at great expense, like fighter pilots, or had hard-to-find skills, such as Arabic translators.

Date created : 2010-12-22

  • USA

    Victory for Obama as Senate votes to end 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'

    Read more

  • AMERICAS

    Senate moves ahead on repeal of military ban on gays

    Read more

  • USA

    Senate shoots down bill repealing "don't ask, don't tell"

    Read more

COMMENT(S)