(WHNT) — On Monday, President Joe Biden and other administration officials recognized the tenth anniversary of the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which precluded gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
“Ten years ago today, a great injustice was remedied and a tremendous weight was finally lifted off the shoulders of tens of thousands of dedicated American service members,” President Biden said in a statement. “The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell… helped move our nation closer to its foundational promise of equality, dignity, and opportunity for all.”
“On this day and every day, I am thankful for all of the LGBTQ+ service members and veterans who strengthen our military and our nation,” Biden continued.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay member of the U.S. Cabinet and a veteran who joined the military under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, also spoke about the repeal’s anniversary.
“Ten years after the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, I’m reflecting on the courage of LGBTQ+ servicemembers who answered the call, both before and since it became possible to serve openly—as well as those who fought to ensure all could wear the uniform as their whole, full selves,” Buttigieg said via Facebook.
The policy, which lasted 18 years in the United States, barred and discharged service members due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. It was repealed by President Obama in 2010, but did not go into effect until September 20, 2011.
The law was initially signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton in 1993 as a compromise for promising to lift the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military altogether.
“The 10th anniversary today of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” reminds us that when we strive for greater inclusivity, we help strengthen our nation’s defenses,” said U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
“I am committed to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion across the force,” Austin concluded. “It makes us more representative of the nation we defend. It makes us wiser. And, without question, it makes us stronger. On behalf of the entire Department, I thank our LGBTQ+ service members — and your families — for the service you render each and every day.”
According to a 2016 report by the Associated Press, 13,000 were ousted from the U.S. military during the time Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was in place.