Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell

(San Francisco, CA, December 18, 2010)—Today, the U.S. Senate voted to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the discriminatory 17-year-old policy that bars lesbian, gay, and bisexual people from serving openly in the military.

The House approved the measure on Wednesday, December 15. With the Senate’s 65 to 31 vote today, the bill now goes to President Barack Obama, who campaigned on the promise that he would work with Congress to repeal the policy. After signing it into law, the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff need to certify that the ban can be lifted without affecting troops. The ban will then be lifted 60 days after that.

NCLR congratulates and thanks the many organizations that have worked so hard on this issue both in Congress and the courts, including: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network; the Human Rights Campaign; Servicemembers United; the Palm Center; the Center for American Progress; OutServe; the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; National Black Justice Coalition; Get Equal; Log Cabin Republicans; and Stonewall Democrats.

A statement by NCLR’s Executive Director Kate Kendell:

“This is an emotional day for the thousands of lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members and their families who have lived under the shadow of this shameful policy for nearly twenty years. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the individuals and organizations who have worked tirelessly to overturn this destructive law.

We also thank President Obama and Congressional leaders for their unflinching commitment to bringing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to an end. For the first time, Congress has recognized lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members as equal citizens who must be treated with full dignity and respect. While much work still lies ahead, this victory is a true turning point and moves us closer to a day where we truly live up to the ideal of liberty and justice for all.”

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.