The White House released a behind the scenes video around the bill signing for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:
Jonathan Hopkins, Army Captain, Honorably Discharged: This event today really means freedom to a lot of folks. Everyone that’s here today just feels an immense sense of relief that they can be judged on one thing and one thing alone, that’s their competence.
President Obama: This morning I am proud to sign a law that will bring an end to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. No longer will our country be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans who were forced to leave the military, regardless of their skills, no matter their bravery or their zeal, no matter their years of exemplary performance because they happen to be gay.
Leaders like Captain Jonathan Hopkins who led a platoon into northern Iraq during the initial invasion, quelling an ethnic riot, earning a bronze star with valor.
Jonathan Hopkins: I was outed to my command, they had an investigation, and during that investigation, uh, I found, it was, I actually found out about the investigation the same day I found out that I was on the promotion list a year early to Major. Which shows the paradox of the policy.
President Obama: This law I’m about to sign will strengthen our national security. And uphold the ideals that our fighting men and women risk their lives to defend. And I’ve got to acknowledge Patrick Murphy [cheers], a veteran himself, who helped lead the way in Congress.
Congressman Patrick Murphy: I joined the Army, nineteen years of age, back in nineteen ninety-three. And, uh, I rose through the ranks to be a Captain, to teach at West Point, and when nine eleven happened I deployed twice. And I saw so many great American heroes, leaders in our military and in our army, be thrown out just because they happened to be gay. So, I saw it with my own eyes, and I know, I’ve fought so hard to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and I was so proud to have our president and our commander in chief fight for it every step of the way. And I will tell you that it, it means the world, not just for those in the military, but for our country to see a president who is willing to do what is right, which makes our country great.
President Obama: We are not a nation that says don’t ask, don’t tell. We are a nation that says, out of many, we are one. [applause, cheers] We are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot. We are a nation that believes that all men and women are created equal. Those are the ideals that generations have fought for, those are the ideals that we uphold today, and now it is my honor to sign this bill into law.
Melody Barnes, White House Domestic Policy Council: These words have often been said, but I think, what, particularly true today, that the arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice. And the President was determined that we were going to bend toward justice for the men and women serving in uniform. So this was a, a moral issue for us, it was a policy and a legal issue, and we all put our shoulder to the wheel to get it done.
President Obama: This is done. [cheers, applause]