What they’re saying about ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Bay Area members of Congress and California elected officials reacted with joy at today’s repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy against openly gay and lesbian service members.

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

“Today, we celebrate the end of a discriminatory era against gay and lesbian service members in America with the official repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ For too long, this failed policy unfairly denied fundamental civil liberties to highly qualified individuals who wished to serve our country. As a Vice-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality caucus, I am pleased that the tireless work of my Congressional colleagues, the Administration, and the LGBT community resulted in the end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’

“Although this is a remarkable step forward, we still have a long way to go to attain full equality for LGBT people. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people continue to be targets of discrimination in our policies, our laws, and our society.

“I have always said that discrimination is un-American and we, as a nation, must continue to fight for policies that bring us closer to fulfilling the principles we espouse. I encourage my constituents, my colleagues and our country to stay committed to ensuring that sexual orientation and gender-identity are no longer a cause for inequality.”

From Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove:

“Embedded in American patriotism is the hope and expectation that our country’s best days are still to come. Today, as we celebrate the end of the discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, I’m proud to say that America the country is one step closer to living up to America the idea.

“Since the founding of our great Republic, LGBT service members have selflessly fought and died in defense of our country. For too long, our country in return forced these brave heroes to live a lie in order to serve. This has led to thousands of dismissals and jeopardized national security by denying skilled Americans the opportunity to serve. As of today, this injustice is relegated to the dustbin of history – where it belongs.

“This is a day of celebration for gay and lesbian troops who can now serve openly, and for their families, who can now comfort their loved ones without fear. This is also a day of celebration for every American who believes that we must live up to our ideals. The leaders of the free world, the great defenders of democracy, should not promote policies that are discriminatory, harmful, and against the principles of a free and just society.

“Because of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, somewhere a young LGBT American is coming to the realization that the discrimination and barriers to equality they’ve grown up with are eroding. For people who have been marginalized all their lives, to know that someday soon they will no longer be excluded from their American dream can make all the difference in the world.”

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“Today, after nearly two decades of discrimination and injustice, the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy has officially come to an end. When this policy was put into effect, I said it was ‘just plain un-American.’ I am so grateful that equality, freedom and justice have won out over fear and prejudice. A barrier has been lifted, and our military and our nation will be stronger because of it.”

More, after the jump…

From Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom:

“The repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ sends a strong message to citizens all across the country: hold your head high and serve your country with pride.

“On this historic occasion, we open the doors to tens of thousands of qualified Americans who wish to serve their country with dignity, honor and respect. This will restore integrity to all Service members, including those who currently serve in silence and their families and spouses. We also recognize and honor those who served our country and never thought this day would become reality.

“This is not a political, partisan or a regional issue. This is a fundamental element of civil rights in America. The rights to equal marriage, open service, and pursuit of happiness must be afforded to all citizens. Today, we move one step further to strengthening the foundation of civil rights in our country.

“As we celebrate the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ start a conversation with service members in your life. Thank them and show your appreciation for their sacrifice and the protections they bring to liberty and freedom across the globe.

“For those who have been waiting to serve openly, welcome.”

From Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles:

“Today marks the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as policy of the United States military. This is a proud moment for all Americans, especially those who can now openly serve in uniform, with pride, dignity and honor. President Obama and those members of congress who approved the repeal of this policy have taken a profound action to allow every patriotic American the opportunity to defend their country, and I am grateful for their efforts.”

From state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco:

“A major civil rights milestone was finally achieved today with the full repeal of the military’s discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy.

As the son of a veteran, I know that patriotism and love of country should be the defining factors for military service, and not sexual orientation. The armed forces will now truly reflect our diversity and allow for the best to serve without arbitrarily preventing talented Americans from offering themselves to our nation.

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ has not only harmed many Americans and their families, it has jeopardized our national security and our ability to have the best trained military in the world. Sexual orientation has no effect on one’s ability to serve with honor, courage, commitment, and dignity, or one’s willingness to risk their life for their country.

It is long overdue for our nation to end all discriminatory policies which do nothing to advance our communities or our citizens. I am proud of the role San Francisco has played in ending this sad chapter of American history and in our many efforts during this long struggle for justice and equality for all.”

UPDATE @ 7:15 A.M. WEDNESDAY: From Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto:

“Today closes the sad chapter of discriminatory policies of the U.S. Armed Forces that caused more than 14,000 service men and women to be discharged. The repeal recognizes that this policy was inconsistent with who we are as a nation and finally eliminates the blatant discrimination against gays and lesbians who have chose to serve our country in uniform.

“With the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ we finally align our military and our law with the principles of our country, and affirm our bedrock belief in equality for every American.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    “As the son of a veteran,” Mr Yee is uniquely fit to assess the effect on morale of serving with transsexual soldiers.

  • Elwood

    It’s going to be a FUN Army! And Navy! And Air Force!

  • John W

    Promise made, promise kept by the president. He, along with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Defense Secretary handled this really well. The country and the military are better for it.

    During Vietnam, you had to convince somebody that you really were homosexual if you wanted to use that as a way out. On the other hand, under DADT, you had to convince somebody that you weren’t gay or lesbian if they suspected you.

    I was Army but served in a joint service organization led by a USAF colonel. We had all branches represented in both the enlisted and officer ranks. There were some known gays and lesbians in all of them, including the USMC. They were outstanding people. When I went back to school after the service, one of my fellow students was an Army vet who was so obviously gay that somebody really had to look the other way to let him in. Based on his rank of captain and his Bronze Star and Purple Heart, his sexual orientation doesn’t seem to have prevented him from being a pretty good combat unit company commander.

  • Rick K.

    Garamendi will lose in 2012. He spends more time issuing self-congratulatory press releases like this and posing in front of TV cameras than doing his real job (supposedly for the people of the East Bay). One by one he is ticking off his constituents by acting like the aloof career politician that he is instead of actually addressing their real world concerns. Lt. Gov. Garamendi was chairman of the California Economic Development Commission but even Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom now says that Garamendi didn’t even have an economic development plan! Garamendi’s rhetoric today about “jobs” is nothing more than labor union bosses’ talking points. Garamendi knows nothing about economic development and job creation. He knows nothing about fiscal responsibility either — every wasteful use our tax dollars is “investment” in his twisted eyes. That’s why he is danger of losing his seat in his new district where many counties have high double-digit unemployment. A moderate, sensible Republican in the tradition of ex-Congressman Doug Ose (perhaps Colusa County Superior Vann) could knock Garamendi off and send him packing to Walnut Grove, Calaveras County or wherever else Garamendi claims to be “home” these days (including the middle of the Sacramento River where Garamendi claims his “front yard” is – see NY Times of July 4, 2009). People of Solano County and points north, please dump Garamendi the narcissistic career politician!

  • BGR

    SOrry. I thought this was about Nancy Pelosi’s comment about what’s in Obamacare.