Today marks an important anniversary for lesbian, gay, and bisexual military members — 10 years ago, President Barack Obama signed legislation repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the policy that had forced them to remain in the closet or risk discharge. Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, has issued a statement on the significance of the repeal and the need to extend the freedom to serve to transgender Americans as well, and to pass the Equality Act, assuring equal rights for LGBTQ+ people in all aspects of life.
“Ten years ago, our nation took bold action to end a fundamental injustice that had inflicted shame and distress on tens of thousands of brave, patriotic LGBTQ servicemembers,” Pelosi’s statement reads. “With the repeal of the hateful ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, we strengthened our national security and reaffirmed the bedrock principle that those willing and able to serve be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of who they are or whom they love.
“LGBTQ Americans have always served in our military with honor and distinction, from the earliest days of America’s history. Our nation owes them an immense debt of gratitude. Yet, three and a half years ago, the Trump Administration shamefully abandoned our founding promise of equality with its hateful transgender military ban. It is our great unfinished work to reverse this disgraceful ban and defend the freedoms of all who serve our nation — just as they defend ours.
“A decade after sending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ into the dustbin of history, House Democrats remain committed to honoring our extraordinary LGBTQ servicemembers and all those who don the uniform. As we celebrate this momentous anniversary, we will continue fighting to build on this progress and finally enact the Equality Act to fully end discrimination against all LGBTQ Americans once and for all.”
President-elect Joe Biden, who as Obama’s vice president lobbied senators to support DADT’s repeal, has promised to lift the trans military ban once he takes office and to make passage of the Equality Act a priority in the first 100 days of his administration.