Dan Savage should be beaming with pride about what he started. Here is the president of the United States reaching out to gay kids being bullied in their teenage years.

It's beautifully crafted and gently put. I think it's the first time in history that a US president has spoken directly to gay Americans in support from the White House. Which makes it a milestone.

It comes the same day that the procedure for expelling openly gay servicemembers solely for being gay has been made the responsibility of only five senior figures in the military, so that abuses do not occur, that the discharges can get rarer and rarer, that some of the country's servicemembers do not need to live in constant fear as they risk their lives to defend us:

In a memorandum dated Oct. 21, Mr. Gates said that “until further notice,” only five senior Defense Department officials, all civilians, would have the authority to expel openly gay service members. As the memo explained it, the relevant service secretary either the Secretary of the Army, Navy or Air Force has to consult with the Pentagon’s legal counsel, Jeh C. Johnson, and the undersecretary for personnel, Clifford L. Stanley, before the three can make a group decision on whether a gay service member should be forced out of the military. Until Thursday the decision was in the hands of a far larger number of less senior military and civilian officials.

I have been very critical of this administration for its slow and cautious approach to gay civil rights. That is not because I believe they are somehow not in favor of such rights, but because I feel strongly about our dignity and equality, and have always used whatever mouthpiece I have to make the case. But I have to say that this gesture from Obama and the practical reform within the military are important steps forward. The ban still needs to end.

But this is a real step in the right direction, and many of us are deeply encouraged by it.