News release: "The official end today of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law reflects the American values that military members uphold, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said today [in a briefing]. “Thanks to this change, I believe we move closer to achieving the goal at the foundation of the values that America's all about -- equality, equal opportunity and dignity for all Americans,” he told reporters during a Pentagon news briefing. Panetta reaffirmed his dedication to all who are serving and ensuring everyone who wishes to serve has the opportunity to do so regardless of sexual preference. “As secretary of defense, I am committed to removing all of the barriers that would prevent Americans from serving their country and from rising to the highest level of responsibility that their talents and capabilities warrant,” he said. “These are men and women who put their lives on the line in the defense of this country, and that's what should matter the most.” Panetta credited several groups for helping prepare the Defense Department for the implementation of the repeal. “I want to thank the repeal implementation team and the service secretaries, along with the service chiefs, for all of their efforts to ensure that DOD is ready to make this change, consistent with standards of military readiness, with military effectiveness, with unit cohesion, and with the recruiting and retention of the armed forces,” he said."