Last night, 18 Sept, the Intrepid Museum in New York City was filled with military personnel, cadets, midshipmen veterans, and the glitteratti to celebrate the one year anniversary of the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
'Tonight is a celebration of a great achievement,' said former Rep. Patrick Murphy. He sponsored DADT repeal legislation in 2010.
In 1992, then candidate Bill Clinton promised to end a US military policy that discharged gay and lesbian troops. In 1993, President Clinton signed a compromise that become as 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' Despite its title, LGBT troops were still kicked out of the service if their sexuality was discovered. According to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, one of the sponsors of last night's event, 14,000 troops have been removed from the US armed forces under DADT.
Like Clinton, President Barack Obama campaigned on abolishing the policy. In late 2010, he signed the bill repealing DADT, and on 20 Sept. 2011 the guidelines were officially over.
Last night's event, called Celebrating Our Heroes: A Tribute to America’s Service Members & Veterans, was sponsored by SLDN, OutServe, and the Interbank Roundtable Committee (IRC). The evening was also an opportunity to honor Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In 2010 Feb., Mullen testified before the US Senate Armed Services Committee as the policy was being debated.
'No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.' Mullen said to the senators. 'For me, it comes down to integrity – theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.'
In his speech, Mullen took as little credit as possible. Instead he pointed to the assembled as the reason why LGBT troops can now serve openly.
'It was you who paved the way,' the former chairman said.
Below are photos from last night's event.