The controversial policy referred to as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was repealed today, making it acceptable for gay and lesbian military personnel to serve openly for the first time in U.S. history. One lawmaker wonders if, now that DADT has been struck down, if it was not time to target the Defense of Marriage Act.
"As of today, patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love. As of today, our armed forces will no longer lose the extraordinary skills and combat experience of so many gay and lesbian service members," President Barack Obama said in a statement.
The law, referred to as DADT, mandated that gays could serve in the military so long as they kept their sexual orientation private.
Repeal of the 1993 law went into effect Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. EDT. Since the law was enacted, more than 14,000 gay and lesbian troops have been discharged.
Lawmakers took to their Twitter accounts Tuesday to offer reaction to the repeal of DADT, with many expressing support for the repeal.
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) tweeted, "Today a policy of discrimination, that forced brave Americans to lie in order to defend their nation, finally comes to an end."
"Now that DADT is behind us, it's time to go get DOMA, don't you think?" said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), referring to the Defense of Marriage Act.
DOMA defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. It was passed in 1996 by a majority of those serving in Congress and signed into law by then President Bill Clinton.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced legislation, the “Respect for Marriage Act,” earlier this year to overturn DOMA.
Gay rights activists have been aggressively trying to repeal the federal marriage law. Now that the DADT repeal has become official, activists are expected to turn their attention to DOMA.
The Army distributed a statement Tuesday announcing the repeal of the law, and reminded soldiers that new rules, regulations and policies reflecting the repeal will be applied "uniformly without regard to sexual orientation, which is a personal and private matter."
Roughly 97 percent of the military has undergone training regarding the new law, the Pentagon said. According to The Associated Press, while awaiting the repeal, the military started accepting applications from openly gay recruits.
The Family Research Council, which urged the Pentagon to postpone the repeal, said it has not received responses to questions regarding how the repeal will affect religious freedom and conscience exemptions.
“The American military exists for only one purpose – to fight and win wars. Yet... the U.S. military becomes a tool in reshaping social attitudes regarding human sexuality," said FRC President Tony Perkins. "Using the military to advance a liberal social agenda will only do harm to the military's ability to fulfill its mission."
The repeal of "Don't Ask, Don’t Tell" will stop the progress of all pending investigations, discharges and other administrative proceedings that were started under the law passed during former President Bill Clinton's administration, CBS News reported.
Soldiers discharged under the policy will also be allowed to reapply for military service.