Washington, DC -- Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) celebrated the end of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy which prevented openly gay members of the military from serving their country.  Today, President Barack Obama, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen officially certified that the Pentagon is ready to transition the law out of existence.  In 60 days from today, the repeal which passed Congress with Rep. Engel’s vote and was signed into law by President Obama in December 2010, will become final.

“Finally, the bravery of gay men and women will no longer be questioned, and no longer will they have to hide in the shadows for fear of dishonorable discharge.  No longer will a service member be reprimanded for their sexual orientation.  Bravery and dedication are not exclusively the property of heterosexuals.  We cannot go back in time to right the wrongs done to the 13,000 service members discharged under DADT.   Thankfully, there will be no others.

“As the 1964 Republican Presidential Candidate, Senator Barry Goldwater, said, ‘You can be gay and still shoot straight.’  Finally, the ability to shoot straight will be the only thing that matters.  This is a great day for gay men and women, for the United States military, and for anyone who believes in equal rights under the law.”