Washington D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith released the following statement after President Obama certified the repeal of “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell” with the full support of the Secretary of Defense and all four service chiefs:

“I am pleased to see that this damaging, discriminatory policy has now come to an end and I applaud Secretary Panetta, all of our service chiefs and former Secretary Gates for following through on the President’s pledge to allow all Americans to serve and protect our nation.

“Two of the United States Government’s primary responsibilities are to provide for a strong national defense and protect the rights of its people. Repealing

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” helps to achieve both of these goals. Allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly and honestly in our military is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. Driving thousands of loyal, qualified Americans out of our Armed Forces at a time when we need them the most undermines our military’s effectiveness.

“Nearly 14,000 service members have been discharged since the law was implemented in 1993, and thousands more have been denied the right to serve the country they love - solely due to their sexual orientation. This harmful practice has now come to an end. No longer will dedicated Americans need to hide who they are to serve the country they love.

“Again, I applaud the President for making the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” a priority and our military’s leadership for making it a reality.”