It took a little longer than planned, but Tuesday (September 20) marks the official end of the U.S. military's controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The 1993 law that allowed gays and lesbians to serve in the armed forces as long as they kept their orientation secret officially went off the books as of 12:01 a.m. EDT, putting an end to a rule that drew fire from scores of gay activists and supporters over the years, including Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.
While some in Congress have said they oppose the ruling, CBS News reported that top leaders in the Pentagon have expressed confidence that the change will not undermine the military's ability to recruit or fight wars and will not have a negative impact on troop morale. "The law is repealed," the Army announced plainly in a statement, which included a reminder to soldiers to treat each other fairly and with respect.
The White House sent out an official tweet with the news as well, which read, "As of 12:01 a.m., the repeal of the discriminatory law known as 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' finally & formally takes effect." As of last week, the Pentagon said 97 percent of the military had already undergone training under the new law and the armed services have been accepting applications from openly gay recruits for weeks.
Gaga celebrated the repeal, tweeting, "What a tremendous & beautiful day, DADT is officially repealed & the new order is in place. Sending all my love&gratitude to service members."
Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton celebrated with a tweet early Tuesday morning, writing, "R.I.P. #DADT. And good riddance!"
Gaga, who arrived at the 2010 MTV VMAs with openly gay service members who had been discharged or left the military due to the policy, made viral videos and spoke at a September 2010 rally calling for the end of DADT, tweeted her emotional reaction to the repeal last year.
"Can't hold back the tears+pride. We did it! Our voice was heard + today the Senate REPEALED DADT. A triumph for equality after 17 YEARS," she wrote back on December 18 when the Senate voted to officially repeal the measure.