- (Photo: Reuters / Jason Reed)
President Barack Obama took the final major step toward ending "don't ask, don't tell" by certifying its repeal on Friday.
"I have certified and notified Congress that the requirements for repeal have been met," Obama said in a statement. "‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will end, once and for all, in 60 days – on September 20, 2011."
In 60 days, gay and lesbian service members will be allowed to serve openly in the military, which conservatives argue will harm unit cohesion and retention.
"Twenty-four percent of service members said repeal would have a negative impact on their 'intentions to remain in the military,' a number six times higher than those who said it would have a positive effect," Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said.
"President Obama, Secretary Panetta and Admiral Mullen have no basis – other than liberal political correctness – for 'certifying' that a reversal of this longstanding policy would do no harm."
The 1993 policy banning gays from serving openly in the military had been put in place as a compromise between then president Bill Clinton, who advocated lifting the ban on gays, and a conservative Congress.
When Obama took office, he vowed to gay rights groups that he would repeal DADT. In December 2010, Congress passed the repeal and the legislation was signed by Obama who called for swift implementation of the bill.
The ban has remained in place while service members have been undergoing training for the lifting of DADT this year.
Under the bill, the secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the president must certify the military's readiness to implement the repeal in order to allow it to take effect.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, joined Obama Friday in certifying the repeal.
"As Commander in Chief, I have always been confident that our dedicated men and women in uniform would transition to a new policy in an orderly manner that preserves unit cohesion, recruitment, retention and military effectiveness," said Obama. "Today’s action follows extensive training of our military personnel and certification by Secretary Panetta and Admiral Mullen that our military is ready for repeal.
"As of September 20th, service members will no longer be forced to hide who they are in order to serve our country."
Perkins of FRC has called the whole repeal process nothing short of a scandal.
He denounced the Department of Defense report released last year that indicated that the risk of a DADT repeal to military effectiveness is low. FRC has accused the Pentagon of skewing the survey responses from service members regarding how they would feel about a repeal.
"[T]he Pentagon's biased report on the subject last year illustrated the dangers of using the military for social engineering," said Perkins. "Sixty-two percent foresaw at least some negative effects, and the report conceded that in open forums, 'the majority of views were against repeal.'
"The entire process by which the Obama administration has orchestrated repeal of this law was dishonest from the start. The recent revelation of a Defense Department Inspector General's report on unauthorized leaks to the media showed that the conclusions of the Pentagon's report on repeal had already been written before the troops were even asked their views."
Perkins is urging Congress to stop the implementation of the repeal and to investigate "this scandal."