President Obama signs the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Repeal Act of 2010.

President Barack Obama signed the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ into law on Wednesday but the ban on gay and lesbians in the military may remain in force for some time.

Before signing the legislation, Obama thanked the gay men and women who have served in the US military during a historic ceremony at the Interior Department in Washington.

“For a long time your service has demanded a particular kind of sacrifice. You’ve been asked to carry the added burden of secrecy and isolation. And all the while, you’ve put your lives on the line for the freedoms and privileges of citizenship that are not fully granted to you.

“There will never be a full accounting of the heroism demonstrated by gay Americans in service to this country; their service has been obscured in history. It’s been lost to prejudices that have waned in our own lifetimes. But at every turn, every crossroads in our past, we know gay Americans fought just as hard, gave just as much to protect this nation and the ideals for which it stands,” said Obama.

He added: “For 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'”.

However, according to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010, the ban will only fall away once Obama and Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen approve the implementation procedure which must still be drawn up.

Some commentators have suggested that it could take up to a year for the Pentagon to draft and implement the plan to educate troops on open integration and to soothe internal resistance to gays and lesbians serving openly.

The act then legislates an additional 60-day implementation period after which the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law will finally fall away.

In the meantime, it remains unclear how the military will deal with new and current recruits that are openly gay.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, called on Gates to “use his authority to suspend all Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell investigations and discharges during this limbo period”.

“Until there is certification and until the 60-day implementation period is over, no one should be investigated or discharged under this discriminatory law,” he said.

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