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Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Biden on Monday commemorated the 10th anniversary of the repeal of the military's “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule, saying a "great injustice was remedied" on the occasion.

Why it matters: The policy banned openly gay, lesbian and bisexual people from serving. Its repeal moved the U.S. "closer to its foundational promise of equality, dignity, and opportunity for all," Biden said.

  • The rule was implemented in 1993. It lead to some 14,000 service members receiving “other than honorable” discharges that prevented them from receiving important benefits and services for veterans, according to a White House statement.

What's new: The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday issued guidance stating that people who were discharged because of the policy will be eligible for VA benefits including readiness and employment benefits, home loan guaranty, compensation and pension, health care and access to homelessness programs.

"Although VA recognizes that the trauma caused by the military’s decades-long policy of discrimination against LGBTQ+ people cannot be undone in a few short months, the Biden administration and Secretary McDonough are taking the steps necessary to begin addressing the pain that such policies have created."
Kayla Williams, assistant secretary for public affairs in VA's Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

Biden in a news release called on Congress to honor the sacrifices LGBTQ service members and veterans by passing the Equality Act, which would expand federal protections for LGBTQ people.

What he's saying: "Ten years ago today, a great injustice was remedied and a tremendous weight was finally lifted off the shoulders of tens of thousands of dedicated American service members," Biden said.

  • The repeal "showed once again that America is at its best when we lead not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example," he added.
  • "We must honor their sacrifice by continuing the fight for full equality for LGBTQ+ people, including by finally passing the Equality Act and living up to our highest values of justice and equality for all."

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement Monday that striving for inclusivity also bolsters national defense.

  • "By insisting on standards of merit and allowing to serve in uniform all those who are qualified, we avail ourselves of more talent, better leaders and innovative solutions to the security challenges we face around the world."

Editor's note: This post was updated to add news that people who were discharged because of "don't ask, don't tell" will be eligible for VA benefits.

Go deeper

Arkansas LGBTQ+ Advancement Fund taking applications

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Organizations that provide critical services to the LGBTQ+ community in Arkansas may now apply for grants up to $150,000.

  • Critical services include legal, health, education and advocacy services, as well as other high-demand needs.

What happened: Arkansas LGBTQ+ Advancement Fund was created in June with seed funding of $1 million from the Alice L. Walton Foundation and from Olivia and Tom Walton through the Walton Family Foundation.

Why it matters: A record number of bills targeting trans youth have marginalized transgender people and others identifying as LGBTQ+ who live in the Natural State.

Details: Grants will be made between $25,000 and $150,000. Applicants must be based in Arkansas or have a significant presence in the state.

  • Program grants will support the costs for initiatives, activities or projects that directly support LGBTQ+ Arkansans.
  • Impact grants are for Arkansas-based grassroots organizations led by and serving LGBTQ+ communities with an annual operating budget of $150,000 or less.

The first application deadline is Nov. 22. Applications received after the deadline will be reviewed in following grant rounds.

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest — triggering widespread power outages and flooding.

Why it matters: The strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood.

“You blew it”: GOP activist turns on corporations over vaccine mandates

The chairman of the American Conservative Union said on "Axios on HBO" he accepts "Joe Biden is my president, and I want him to succeed," but predicted Republicans retake the House and Senate in 2022 — with greater than 50% odds Donald Trump runs in 2024.

The big picture: In a joint interview with his wife, Mercedes, Matt Schlapp also refused to share their vaccination status. And he told corporate America "you blew it" by embracing vaccine mandates and liberal social stances that have alienated GOP voters and politicians.