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Obama signs landmark repeal of DADT policy

by Adam Russett on December 22, 2010

President Obama signed a law Wednesday morning repealing the 13-year policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, fulfilling his campaign promise and extending a civil rights victory to gays who were previously not allowed to serve openly in the military.

At 9:20 a.m., minutes before he officially signed the repeal, Obama called the motion a personal victory and said that no one should have to "sacrifice their integrity" by masking their identities, USA Today reports.

According to the news source, the signing drew massive crowds of spectators to the auditorium of Interior Department headquarters, where the White House scheduled the event to accommodate the overwhelming response.

"This is the defining civil rights initiative of this decade. Congress has taken an extraordinary step on behalf of men and women who've been denied their rightful integrity for too long," executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Aubrey Sarvis told the Washington Post.

The 1993 policy was overturned by Congress last week after a Pentagon report concluded that the vast majority of service members would see no negative impact caused by gays serving openly in the military.

The president's signature will only be a step in the process of ending the ban, however. The repeal awaits the Pentagon's certification to Congress that the military has completed the proper education and training. Once the preconditions are met, the law will take effect after another 60 days.

The gay rights victory comes amid two other lame-duck session successes, including the recent signing of the tax cut extensions and a nuclear arms treaty with Russia that the Senate is expected to ratify later on Wednesday.

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