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Obama Signs DADT Repeal

Obama Signs DADT Repeal

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In front of several hundred LGBT advocates, President Barack Obama Wednesday signed legislation that will allow the military to lift the 17-year-old ban on gays and lesbians serving openly. The president said the achievement marked a turning point for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocates across the nation.

"We are not a nation that says 'don't ask, don't tell.' We are a nation that says 'out of many we are one,'" Obama said from the stage, where he was accompanied by Adm. Mike Mullen, Zoe Dunning, Eric Alva, House speaker Nancy Pelosi and majority leader Steny Hoyer, Rep. Patrick Murphy, Senate majority leader Harry Reid, and senators Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins. Collins joined the group late and was met with enthusiastic applause, and Murphy received a extended standing ovation when Obama called out his name from the stage.

The administration was more than happy to check the box of repealing the gay ban -- a pledge that Obama made repeatedly both as president and as a candidate. Vice President Joe Biden started the signing ceremony by stating the obvious. "This fulfills an important campaign promise the president and I made," Biden said.

And President Obama punctuated the ceremony when he finished signing the legislation with, "This is done!"

Repeal advocates displayed a mix of emotions ranging from jubilation to relief.

Dixon Osburn, who cofounded the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, reflected on many of the clients the organization had helped over the early years.

"I think of all the young men and women that we helped who called crying and needing a lifeline, and, to me, this means America has responded. America's the lifeline now," Osburn said.

David Mixner, who helped elect President Bill Clinton and broke with the administration over "don't ask, don't tell," called the day "simply overwhelming."

"I'm very teary about it," Mixner said, adding that he never anticipated that 17 years would pass before the law changed.

"I thought the injustice of it and the inequality of it were so obvious, and each time another prominent member of our military was dismissed, I thought that would turn the tide," he said.

But for that very same reason, Mixner also saw this moment in history as pivotal for the equality movement.

"This is an unbelievably significant turning point for the community, and that they want to sign it, on camera, in front of all these people tells you how important they think it is," he said of the administration.

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