Breaking news: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal has just cleared its last congressional hurdle.

This discriminatory law will be relegated to the dustbin of history. This stain on our nation will be lifted forever. And you made it happen.

Today, America lived up to its highest ideals of freedom and equality. Today, our federal government recognized that ALL men and women have the right to openly serve the country they believe in. That it doesn’t matter who you are, or who you love – you are not a second-class citizen.

Think of the kids out there tonight, watching this on the news – kids who are bullied for being different, who live in fear daily that their parents will hate them if they find out the truth… Think of the relief, the empowerment, the sense of possibility they’ll feel, knowing that the U.S. military has said: if you’re lesbian or gay, you are worthy. We want you to join us, side by side, as equals.

Think of the people across the globe – some in countries where it is literally a life-or-death decision to come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender – who will hear this news and know we’re one step closer toward a world where no one needs to live in fear because of who they are.

And take a moment to truly comprehend the lives ruined over the last 17 years because of this discriminatory law. The soldiers, sailors, airmen, translators, doctors and more, whose military careers were ended, whose livelihoods were threatened, whose friendships were cut off, all because the forces of bigotry and fear held out for so long.

They can never get those years back. But I hope they know that their sacrifice meant something. Their courage and integrity helped a nation understand what it means to serve. And that, more than anything else, helped bring about this historic change.

With your help, we’ve spent 17 years fighting for this moment. I cannot thank you enough for the dedication you’ve shown to get us here.

Senators Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins have been our steadfast champions in this fight. Here’s what Senator Lieberman said today that shows how your energy, your drive, your commitment and your focus have been behind every single step: “This historic day has been seventeen years in the making and would not have happened without the leadership of Joe Solmonese and the Human Rights Campaign.”

We did it. Together. Thank you.


Joe Solmonese

P.S. A quick note on what happens next: the vote we won today – a critical vote to repealing this law – was to overcome a filibuster by John McCain and Republican leaders in the Senate. There may be one final vote on Sunday night or Monday and which only requires a simple majority instead of 60 votes. The bill will then go to President Obama’s desk, and he has promised to sign it. In the following months ahead, the President, Secretary of Defense, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will be responsible for acting expeditiously to implement a repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. HRC advises service members that repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is not effective immediately and service members are still at risk of being discharged on the basis of their sexual orientation until the repeal is completely implemented.