After years of debate, the military can no longer prevent gays from serving openly in its ranks as of this morning at 12:01 a.m. EDT.
For the first time, troops can publicly reveal they’re gay without fear of official retribution. Those troops who were discharged under the ban are being encourage to reenlist. And the Defense Department says it will have no tolerance for anti-gay behavior.
On Tuesday, the Army released a business-as-usual statement about the 1993 law’s repeal, saying only: “The law is repealed.”
Elsewhere, the celebration was a little less subdued.
As rights groups woke up Tuesday, they tweeted comments like, “It’s a great day! [Why] do you ask is it a great day? Because, DADT is finally repealed!!!”
Some shared photos of rainbow-colored PT reflective belts for soldiers. Joshua Foust, a think tank fellow who has written on defense and intelligence for PBS and the Atlantic, sarcastically suggested a uniform of “feather boa and sparkle shoes,” though he followed it up by writing, “Oh? It's business as usual? Oh.”
Others celebrated the launch of a magazine called “OutServe” that tells the story of gay troops, or shared locations of where to celebrate in their city. The Post’s Checkpoint Washington blog shared a bit about the history of DADT, a policy that was the brainchild of sociology professor Charles Moskos.
Gay Latino blogger Blabbeano tweeted this photo of the gravestone of gay soldier Leonard Matlovich:
In Virginia, a couple celebrated the end of the “pronoun game,” in which one of them had to continually refer to a fictitious “she” in his life. In Vermont, a Navy officer and his partner got married at the stroke of midnight, and the Navy officer wore his uniform to the ceremony.
President Barack Obama shared a video in which four veterans shared their DADT stories:
And thousands of miles away, a U.S. soldier stationed in Germany who goes by the name “Are you surprised” on YouTube and Twitter celebrated a different way — by phoning his dad in Alabama to tell him that he was gay.
Watch the video of that phone call call below:
Some rights groups and politicians took the opportunity to remind supporters their work was not yet done.
The National Center for Transgender Equality wrote about a Pentagon report that showed transgender people will still not be able to serve openly in the military.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) reminded supporters about the Defense of Marriage Act, writing on Twitter: “Now that DADT is behind us, it's time to go get DOMA, don't you think?” Because of DOMA, the Post’s Jonathan Capehart pointed out Tuesday, the surviving same-sex spouse of a service member won’t receive the same considerations as a surviving straight spouse.
But Post opinion writer Greg Sargent remained hopeful.
“At a difficult moment,” he wrote Tuesday, “it stands as a sorely needed reminder that progress remains possible. Let’s not forget it.”
More from the Washington Post on DADT:
Gallery: Marking the end of DADT
Checkpoint Washington: The history of DADT
Federal Eye blog: ‘Outserve’ Magazine tells stories of gay troops
Politics: U.S military prepares for end of DADT
The Plum Line: It’s official, don’t ask don’t tell is history
Gallery: Closing a chapter in history