Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Ends: First Lady Will Welcome Gay Military Families To Joining Forces

Last April at the White House, openly gay and lesbian members of the military weren't included in launch festivities...
UPDATE: President's statement on the repeal of DADT
Families that have openly gay or lesbian military service members will now be welcome at events for First Lady Obama and Dr. Jill Biden's Joining Forces campaign, says Mrs. Obama's Communications Director, Kristina Schake. That's because "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT), repealed nine months ago by Congress, officially expires today. The First and Second Ladies' campaign supports and celebrates military families as "the force behind the force." (Above: Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden in a promo photo for the campaign)

“After the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell takes effect, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden look forward to including openly gay and lesbian service members in events to recognize their service to the nation, as well as the service of their families,” Schake said in a statement to The Advocate.

Last April, DADT was still the law of the land, so openly gay and lesbian service members and their advocacy groups were not allowed to attend the big White House launch event for the Joining Forces campaign, held in the East Room, and attended by President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, as well as top military brass. Created almost eighteen years ago during the Clinton presidency, DADT prevented members of the military from publicly revealing their sexual orientation.

Today, for the first time in military history, service men and women can reveal their sexual orientation without fear of reprisal. The "no openly gay" White House event policy was in effect exclusively for military-related events: Since taking office, President Obama has hosted three different receptions to celebrate LGBT Pride Month. There are also many openly gay and lesbian staff who work at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Perhaps the most high profile is Jeremy Bernard, the first openly gay Social Secretary in White House history. Bernard is also the first male Social Secretary.

"As a country, we don’t always see their families, our heroes on the home front,” Mrs. Obama said when launching Joining Forces. Because of DADT, the First Lady's observation was doubly true for the families of gay and lesbian members of the armed forces. The invisibility ends today.

Find out more about the campaign at JoiningForces.gov.

*Photo by Soldiers Angels

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