A Signing Ceremony for the Ages

"This is done."

With those words, an upbeat President Obama thwacked the desk and the bill he'd just signed, repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" on Wednesday.

Onlookers cheered and some burst into chants of "USA, USA!"

Among those attending the lively 15-pen signing ceremony, according to one who was there, were: discharged Army Lieutenant and DADT repeal advocate Dan Choi; BlogACTIVE's Michael Rogers; Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese; Democratic fundraiser and public affairs professional Jeff Trammell; David Hall; AMERICABlog's Joe Sudbay; Stuart Serkin; Brian Bond; Media Matter for America's Ari Rabin-Havt; former executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network C. Dixon Osburn; and State Dept Legal Adviser Harold Koh.

"We are not a nation that says, 'Don't ask, don't tell.' We're a nation that says, 'Out of many, we are one,'" Obama said to cheers in remarks before signing the bill.

Guests on stage with Obama included DADT-repeal advocate Eric Alva, a former Marine staff sergeant and Iraq War veteran, Navy Cmdr. Zoe Dunning and repeal-bill cosponsors Sens. Susan Collins (R-Me.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).

In advance of the signing, Obama sat down for his first one-on-one interview with a gay and lesbian news outlet, telling reporter Kerry Eleveld of The Advocate that he expects the implementation of the DADT repeal to be accomplished "within months." Her report:

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is taking the implementation manual for repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" with him on vacation, President Obama told The Advocate during a wide-ranging interview late Tuesday afternoon--the first one-on-one interview of his presidency with an LGBT news outlet.

"My strong sense is [implementation] is a matter of months," Obama said from the Oval Office. "Absolutely not years."

The president added that he has also broached the topic with the General James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, and that "he's going to make it work." Amos has been the most outspoken critic of repeal among the military's service chiefs.


Thumbnail image credit: Getty Images

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Presented by

Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

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