“Today marks the end of a discriminatory policy that for far too long, has kept patriotic Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Americans from serving the United States in our nation’s armed forces. After almost two decades of advocacy, the era of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is finally over. No longer will the courageous LGBT troops who risk their lives to keep America safe be forced to choose between protecting their country and freely expressing who they are. The end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in our nation’s military sends a simple, but powerful, message that we all deserve respect, regardless of who we love. LGBT people who volunteer to serve this country to defend our freedoms won’t be denied that privilege because of who they are. Nor will they be forced to hide a part of themselves in order to continue their service.

“I want to thank President Obama, Senator Gillibrand, Congressmember Nadler and other members of Congress for ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell once and for all. Thanks also to the advocacy organizations such as Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and the Human Rights Campaign for their incredible work in gaining equality in the military.

“There are particularly special moments when government stands on the side of the people, taking a stand against injustice in our country and strengthening the foundation of what it means to be equal and free. Today is a momentous occasion when we can finally honor the service and contribution to protecting our country from all Americans, including LGBT Americans.”