Backdropped by the U.S. flag, and the flags of each military branch, President Barack Obama signed the repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell into law on Wednesday.
The U.S. Senate passed the measure last week nearly two years into Obama's presidency. Obama had pledged to pass the repeal while campaigning for President in 2008.
Obama said that he had spoken with the heads of each military branch and said they promised to 'swiftly and efficiently' implement the repeal.
We're not going to be dragging our feet to get this done, Obama said.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen was in attendance on the stage along with the President, receiving a standing ovation from the audience at the Department of the Interior. Mullen, during testimony before the U.S. Senate, had supported a repeal of the 1993 law which forbade gay and lesbian military members from serving openly.
This morning, I am proud to sign a law that will bring an end to Don't Ask Don't Tell, Obama said. This law I'm about to sign will strengthen our national security.
With any change there's some apprehension, that's natural, but as Commander-in-Chief I'm certain we can effect this change, he said.
Obama also thanked the Congressional leaders on stage who pushed to pass the repeal, recognizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Stenny Hoyer, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The measure passed in the last days of the 111th Congress.