Obama: I couldn’t be prouder of how far we’ve come since ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Barack Obama has released a statement marking five years since the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ (DADT)  – the policy banning openly gay soldiers in the military.

Five years ago today, I signed a bipartisan bill repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ – extending our country’s promise of equality to those who protect it every day.

Today, Americans can serve the country they love no matter who they love, and openly gay, lesbian and bisexual men and women in uniform make our military stronger and America safer.

Since the repeal of DADT, I’ve received hundreds of letters from service members who can now serve their country openly. They come from every corner of America and from military bases around the world. And their stories are a powerful reminder of how much has changed over the past five years.

Because of all we’ve accomplished together, a grieving widow can now receive her wife’s flag at her funeral. A spouse can now be part of his husband’s promotion ceremony.

One person told me he had been torn between his desire to serve his country and his longing to live life openly as a gay man. He no longer is forced to make that choice. And just last summer, he was commissioned as an officer in the United States Navy.

But repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell wasn’t just about living up to our ideals.

As Commander in Chief, I have no greater responsibility than keeping Americans safe. And when it comes to defending our country, we need to draw on the talents of every American – regardless of sexual orientation.

That’s the progress we celebrate today. And in the last five years, we’ve kept fighting to expand the promise of equality to LGBT Americans. We strengthened the Violence Against Women Act to protect LGBT victims.

We prohibited federal contractors from firing employees simply because of the person they love, or the gender they identify with. We called for an end to the use of “conversion therapy” against minors.

And this year, thanks to decades of dedicated, tireless advocacy, marriage equality became a reality in all 50 states.

I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve accomplished together.

But our work is not finished. From the boardroom to the locker room, LGBT Americans still face prejudice in their daily lives.

In far too many states, people still live in fear of being fired from their jobs just because they’re gay. Young people struggling with their gender identities are bullied and beaten and told they don’t belong.
That kind of prejudice has no place in our country, and as Americans we need to let every one of them know that they are not alone. These are our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters. We stand with you, and we’re here to help you grow up strong and confident and proud of who you are.

This anniversary reminds us that in America, we have the power to change – to make sure more of our loved ones and friends and neighbors share in our country’s promise. Together, we’ve won some big victories. And I’m going to spend every minute I have left as president working with you to move our country even closer to our founding ideals.

Happy holidays, and may God bless all who wear the uniform and keep us safe.

This was originally posted on Barack Obama’s Facebook page.