Continued from page 1

“As of 12:01 a.m. this morning, we have the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ pursuant to the law that was passed by the Congress last December,” Mr. Panetta said. “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.”

While the Pentagon took a relatively low-key tone, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), which led the repeal campaign, announced a series of celebratory parties in all 50 states.

“Today marks the official end of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and is an historic milestone along the journey to achieving LGBT [lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender] equality in America’s military,” said the group’s director, Aubrey Sarvis.

“Thanks to veterans, active duty, leaders, allies and supporters everywhere, this is a monumental day for our service members and our nation. Indeed, we have taken a tremendous leap forward for LGBT equality in the military.”

J.D. Smith, an alias for a Air Force officer who founded Outserve magazine for gay military people, came out of the closet. He is 25-year-old 1st Lt. Josh Seefried, who told the New York Times that he now can take his boyfriend to parties.

Gary Ross, a Navy lieutenant, chose the stroke of midnight to marry his civilian partner, Dan Swezy, in Vermont, which allows such unions.