1993 December 21

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy on Homosexuals in the Military Formally Adopted


The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy was a compromise policy that allowed lesbian and gay people to serve in the military as long as they did not tell anyone about their sexual orientation or engage in any same-sex relations. In return, the military would not ask about the sexual orientation of service personnel. During the 1992 election campaign, candidate Bill Clinton had promised to end discrimination against homosexuals in the military. Once in office, however, President Clinton immediately faced a revolt against such a policy — in the Pentagon and in Congress. DADT was formally adopted on this day in Defense Department Directive 1304.26, to take effect in late February 1994.

Neither side was happy with the compromise, and lesbian and gay rights activists charged that military personnel were still being discharged because of their sexual orientation. Two court challenges to the policy, Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights and Log Cabin Republicans v. United States were both unsuccessful in ending the policy. Finally, Congress repealed the DADT policy on the 22nd of December 2010 and President Barack Obama signed the repeal into law. The repeal took effect on September 20, 2011.

Learn about the history of lesbians and gays in the military: Randy Shilts, Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military (1993)

Learn more at a timeline on lesbians and gays in the military: http://www.usni.org/news-and-features/dont-ask-dont-tell/timeline

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