President Obama this morning signed into law the bill repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
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"I am just overwhelmed," Obama said as he took the stage among chants of "Yes we can!" and whoops from the audience. "This is a very good day."
"No longer will our country be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans who were forced to leave the military, regardless of their skills, no matter their bravery or their zeal, no matter their years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay," he said. "No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie."
Obama was joined on stage by Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen, Sens. Joe Lieberman, Susan Collins and Harry Reid and Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Patrick Murphy, an Iraq War veteran who had pushed for DADT repeal.
"In the coming days, we will begin the process laid out by this law," Obama said, adding that repeal will not go into effect immediately. "It is very important that servicemembers remember that."
He spoke directly to gay soldiers, and said he hoped those discharged under DADT will re-enlist once it is fully repealed.
"There will never be a full accounting of the heroism demonstrated by gay Americans in service to this country," he said. "As the first generation to serve openly in our armed services, you will stand for all those who came before you, and you will serve as role models for all those who will come after you."