Her statement follows:
“Today is a historic milestone in the struggle to achieve full equality for LGB Americans. Ending the discriminatory ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy is a tremendous civil rights victory for our country,” Capps said. “But repeal was not just the right thing to do for LGB Americans; it also strengthens our country’s national defense. America will be a stronger nation and better protected now that all qualified Americans who are willing to make the tremendous sacrifices that serving in the military requires can do so with honesty and integrity. This is a good day for equality and a good day for our military.
“Now that our nation’s servicemen and women will be able to serve openly while protecting our freedom, it is a good time for us to pause and recognize the other ways that they — and all LGB Americans — are still second-class citizens. From establishing full marriage equality to fairness in immigration policy, banning employment discrimination and ending DOMA by passing the Respect for Marriage Act, we still have a long way to go. We must not let this hard-fought victory distract us from the fight for equality on other fronts.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the tens of thousands of service members who have been so wrongly denied their civil rights in return for their valuable service to our country. I also want to acknowledge and applaud the Palm Center, which has done tremendous work in advancing this debate over the past 10 years. It has truly been an honor to work with Dr. Aaron Belkin and the entire staff of the Palm Center on this issue. The Palm Center’s thoughtful analysis and detailed studies over the last several years have played an essential role in this critical debate.”
Capps was a long-standing original co-sponsor of legislation to repeal DADT and voted to end the policy on Dec. 15, 2010, when it was approved in a bipartisan vote of 250-175. President Barack Obama signed the legislation into law on Dec. 23, 2010.
On July 22, President Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen certified that the U.S. military was ready for the repeal of DADT, which would take effect 60 days after the date of certification — on Sept. 20.
— Ashley Schapitl is press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.