“It is time to close this chapter in our history. It is time to recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender, religion or creed. It is time to allow gay and lesbian Americans to serve their country openly,” Obama said in a statement hailing the historic Senate vote.
Still, advocates cautioned that gay and lesbian service members will not be immediately allowed to serve openly and could still face disciplinary action for revealing their sexual orientation. The legislative repeal gives military leadership control of a timetable for implementing the change, stipulating that it can only occur after the president, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Congress “certify” the military is ready. After certification, there would be a 60-day grace period before it takes effect.