Today we will finally put an end to a discriminatory military policy that was crafted almost two decades ago during a time when we weren't at war with another country, but rather we were bitterly divided – politically and socially – against ourselves.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell began as an inadequate and deeply flawed compromise that attempted to resolve a debate that raged at all levels of our society – in families, communities, and among military and political leaders. It was a Catch-22. It allowed gay troops to serve, but only by forcing them to compromise one of the core values they're trained to uphold as members of the military: integrity.
By requiring service members to lie about who they are, DADT became a tool for bigots rather than making it possible for gay troops to serve quietly as intended. And over the last decade of conflict, it has forced 14,000 service members to leave the military just when we need them most.
I opposed Don't Ask, Don't Tell from the beginning, and I've been proud to fight for its repeal. But what really brought the policy to an end is the fact that America itself has changed.