2011 September 20

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy Ends


The Pentagon policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which allowed lesbians and gays to serve in the military under limited conditions, officially ended on this day. The policy originated in early 1993 when President Bill Clinton faced fierce opposition from both the Pentagon and Congress to his campaign promise to allow lesbians and gays to serve in the military. After much negotiation, a compromised was reached under which the military would not ask about the sexual orientation of military recruits or personnel, while lesbian or gay military personnel would not disclose their sexual orientation, speak out about homosexuality, or engage in homosexual acts. The policy, known as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, became official on December 21, 1993. Congress repealed the DADT policy on the 22nd of December 2010, President Barack Obama signed the repeal into law, and it took effect on this day.

Neither side was happy with the compromise represented by the DADT policy. 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 (see September 29, 2011) were both unsuccessful in ending the policy, however.

Learn more at the OutServe: http://www.sldn.org/news/

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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