Barack Obama Kicks Don't Ask, Don't Tell to the Curb

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We've been following Don't Ask, Don't Tell since Senator Barack Obama was campaigning on its repeal. After all these years, watching the ceremony in which he kicked it to the curb, in person, was a special kind of early Christmas gift.

The event was not held at the White House, but in an auditorium at the Department of the Interior. (We are told by reliable sources that this is because the East Room is tiny, plus Christmas tours make it impossible to hold large events during the holidays.) Unless it has previously played host to a Black Party, we're pretty sure Department of Interior's hall has never been so full of homosexuals before.

Lt. Dan Choi was in attendance, despite his recent troubles with his mental health. The subject of a Voice cover story in October, Choi shared his thoughts on today's events with us:

The audience was a veritable who's who of gay politics, media, and entertainment in America, often with little distinction between them. For a change, though, there was no disharmony between the direct activists and the lobbyists.

"Everyone's happy today," Dustin Lance Black told us. The screenwriter of Milk has been at odds with the Human Rights Campaign lately for moving into Harvey Milk's Castro district camera store. But he says everything is better, and there's a "resolution coming that even Harvey would be proud of."

"Stay tuned," he teased.

Watching Black meet Senator Al Franken, it was hard to tell whether this was a Hollywood event or a Washington event. (As it was, also, when we chatted with Kal Penn, who has returned to his job at the White House following a brief hiatus to play Kumar in Harold and Kumar 3.)

Franken, for his part, seemed shocked that Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina had come aboard, and joked that the Republicans were running away with this. "Now if Michele Bachmann had supported this..." he quipped.. But he was happy that Burr wanted to be on the right side of history:

Rick Jacobs of the Courage Campaign flew overnight from California, and will be on a plane back home at noon. He was "not surprised, but very happy" about the final hour victory.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand told us she was "extraordinarily happy" about the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. She also told us she "has the votes" on the James Zadroga-9/11 first responder bill, and predicted it will come up for a vote today. (Representative Nadler did not seem as convinced and pressed her about whether the votes were there or not.)

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