WASHINGTON (BP)--President Obama signed into law Dec. 22 a repeal of the ban on open homosexuality in the military, putting his stamp of approval on what homosexual activists celebrated as an important victory in their ongoing effort to expand legal rights for their movement.
"We want to ensure that the Pentagon is monitoring the effect of this radical change on the men and women in harm's way."
-- Tony Perkins, Family Research Council president
The new law's critics have warned it will result in infringements on religious liberty, as well as harm the readiness, privacy and retention of service members.
The president's signing of the legislation did not officially repeal the previous policy, however. Final repeal will require certification by Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen that it will not harm the military. That final step seems a foregone conclusion, since all three supported the bill.
By enacting the reversal of a 17-year-old law known as Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the president kept a promise he had made and accomplished a goal President Clinton failed to achieve in his first year in office. Don't Ask, Don't Tell was approved in 1993 as a compromise between conservatives and Clinton, whose effort to lift the longtime military ban was resisted by Congress and the Pentagon. Don't Ask, Don't Tell barred homosexuals from serving openly but also prohibited military commanders from asking service members if they are homosexual or about their "sexual orientation."
The signing ceremony came only days after both houses of Congress approved the repeal during the lame duck session. The Senate's 65-31 vote occurred Dec. 18, three days after the House of Representatives approved the measure in a 250-175 roll call.
Obama signed the legislation into law in an auditorium at the Department of the Interior large enough to seat a cheering crowd of about 500 people.
Calling it "a very good day," the president said before signing the bill he is "certain that we can effect this transition in a way that only strengthens our military readiness; that people will look back on this moment and wonder why it was ever a source of controversy in the first place."
Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land, who supported maintaining Don't Ask, Don't Tell, warned about the repercussions of its repeal. Read More