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Don't Ask Don't Tell Repeal

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, today is a very important day in our fight to achieve full equality for all Americans in the face of prejudices of various sorts. To commemorate, I want to read a very extraordinary document. It is headlined, ``Don't Ask Don't Tell Repeal.'' It's an official communication.

``Today marks the end of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell.' The law is repealed. From this day forward, gay and lesbian soldiers may serve in our Army with the dignity and respect they deserve. Our rules, regulations, and policies reflect the repeal guidance issued by the Department of Defense and will apply uniformly without regard to sexual orientation, which is a personal and private matter.

``For over 236 years, the U.S. Army has been an extraordinary force for good in the world. Our soldiers are the most agile, adaptable, and capable warriors in history--and we are ready for this change.

``Over the last several months, our leaders, soldiers and Department of the Army civilians have discussed, trained, and prepared for this day. The President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs have certified that repeal is consistent with military readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention. Your professionalism, leadership, and respect for your fellow soldiers will ensure that this effort is successful.

``At the heart of our success is adherence to the Army values. These standards not only infuse every facet of our culture and operations, but also guide us as we adapt to change. Loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage are not mere words to us--they are the very principles by which we live, train, and fight.

``Accordingly, we expect all personnel to follow our values by implementing the repeal fully, fairly, and in accordance with policy guidance. It is the duty of all personnel to treat each other with dignity and respect, while maintaining good order and discipline throughout our ranks. Doing so will help the U.S. Army remain the strength of the Nation.''

It is signed by Raymond F. Chandler, III, the Sergeant Major of the Army; Raymond T. Odierno, General, United States Army Chief of Staff; and John M. McHugh, Secretary of the Army and, parenthetically, our former colleague on the Republican side.

Mr. Speaker, we have a history in this country of prejudice being enacted; and through the efforts of many people, the policy embodying that prejudice can be overcome. And as we debate any single effort to overcome prejudice, we are told that the effect of diminishing that prejudice, the effect of repealing that rule will be chaos, will be disorder, will be social unrest; and it is never true.

Seven years ago, the State I am privileged to represent in this House established same-sex marriage; and there were predictions of doom, predictions that this would be a terribly upsetting factor. None of those predictions have come true. Not a one. As we debated last year the repeal of the unfortunate statute which said that brave and patriotic gay and lesbian and bisexual and transgender members of the armed services would have to lie about who they were, would have to hide who they were or else lose the right to serve their country, a right which some evade but for which they were prepared to fight, we once again heard predictions that this would be disruptive, that it would cause diminution of the ability of our brave men and women to serve their purposes.

Let me predict today, Mr. Speaker, that every one of those prejudices 3 and 4 years from now will be proven as wrong as the predictions that same-sex marriage would be disorganizing. We will now see gay men and lesbians serving this country openly and proudly as they have been serving this country proudly, but unfortunately not openly, for some time. I hope people are making note of the predictions that were made on the floor of this House, in the Senate, and in the country about the negative consequences of ``don't ask don't tell,'' because they will soon be shown to have been wholly false.

Finally, I want to commend Sergeant Major Chandler, General Odierno, and Secretary McHugh. This is a very profound and important document. They are acting in the highest traditions of their constitutional duty, of patriotism, and of respect for our constitutional principles. I welcome this statement, and I believe it is going to be proven to be a harbinger of a situation in which the full integration of gay and lesbian and bisexual and transgender members of the military goes forward with no negative consequences, with all of the positive consequences that come from respecting people and abolishing prejudice.

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