WASHINGTON (AP) - More than 13,000 men and women were discharged from the military under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. But President Barack Obama says gay service members will no longer "be asked to live a lie, or look over their shoulder in order to serve the country that they love."
He signed a landmark law Wednesday morning repealing the ban on gay men and women serving openly in the military.
The crowd for the ceremony was so large that a room at the Interior Department was used for the ceremony. Obama told the cheering crowd that valor and sacrifice in the armed forces are no longer defined by sexual orientation.
Surrounded by senior military officials and members of Congress, Obama said he was proud to sign the bill and overwhelmed by the outpouring of enthusiasm. The change won't be immediate, however.
The bill requires the military lifting the old "don't ask, don't tell" policy - and certify to lawmakers that it won't damage combat readiness, as critics charge. service chiefs to complete implementation plans before