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Guidance for Service Members for Participating in DADT Repeal Events on September 20

David McKeanOn September 20, the law known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) will be repealed, and the United States armed services will no longer discharge service members simply because of their sexual orientation. SLDN and others will be sponsoring celebrations to mark this important date, and we expect that service members will attend many of these celebrations. While "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will be history, service members must remember that it is important to continue to obey the other rules and regulations that govern their conduct.

Many service members want to attend these celebrations, and some might want to speak at them. The extent and type of participation will depend on the nature of the event as defined under military rules.

We expect that most of the DADT repeal celebrations will be just that — celebrations of the repeal of a bad law. No special rules apply to attendance at or participation in such events.

Service members, including those on active duty*, should be able to attend these events as a spectator-celebrant and also to participate in them. They may wear their uniforms and speak as individuals about the importance of repeal to them personally and to the services generally. They may say that they are happy and proud that they now do not have to hide their sexual orientation, etc. They should not, of course, criticize their commanders (or past commanders) or elected officials or urge the election or defeat of candidates for office.

Because of their programs, however, other events might be considered non-partisan political events — events relating to issues not identified with a political party. Such an event could be one that included, for example, speeches advocating LGBT equality and solicitation of contributions to LGBT rights groups.

A service member, including one on active duty, may attend such an event as a spectator and may participate in it, but may not wear the uniform and may not do anything to suggest official sponsorship or endorsement.

A third type of event is the partisan political event — one relating to candidates representing political parties. We would not expect any of the DADT repeal celebrations to fall into this category. A service member on active duty may attend such an event as a spectator if not in uniform, but may not speak at or otherwise participate in it. A member not on active duty may participate, but only in a way that does not give rise to the inference or appearance of official sponsorship or endorsement.

Finally, an active duty service member may not engage in fundraising for an LGBT equality cause or any other political cause at the DADT celebration if it is held on a military base or reservation.

*In this context, "active duty" means full-time duty in the active military service regardless of duration or purpose, including full-time National Guard duty. Active duty includes full-time training duty; annual training duty; and attendance, while in the active military service, at a school designated as a Service school by law or by the Secretary concerned.

By David McKean, SLDN Legal Director |


Comments for this entry are closed.

Stan in CAlifornia on September 25, 2011 at 08.05 pm

Quite the contrary, Navy Chief.  Nothing but love and prayers for you.  I mean that sincerely.

Stan in California  on September 24, 2011 at 10.09 pm

Oh, Navy Chief, you’re so silly.  Misusing outdated data and projecting personal assumptions onto people you don’t even know.  I hope and pray that you soon come to terms with what is, no doubt, your own latent (and unchangeable, by the way) homosexuality, and that you have family and friends nearby who will support you through that process.

If you’re a Christian, check out the homepage link I listed.  It may be of help to you, and any other Christian folk who have questions about the issue of sexual orientation.

Anyhow… back to the topic at hand.  Thanks, SLDN, for all you do!

Navy Chief in USA on September 24, 2011 at 04.55 pm

Question—What sort of homosexual fund raising events are you so desperate to wear a uniform too?

I don’t recall ever seeing or even hearing of a heterosexual fund raising event during my active duty years. Am I correct in presuming that the “flaunting” has already begun?

Stan in California on September 18, 2011 at 10.14 am

So does this mean we cannot wear uniforms to the SLDN sponsored events since they will be taking donations there?

pingumew98 on September 16, 2011 at 08.47 pm

I think the key part in that paragraph is FUNDRAISING.  When you are asking directly for funds for a specific, politically motivated event on base, that’s where the line is crossed.  Religious causes SHOULD NOT (though have been) be raising funds to advance their political view points.

Your Mama on September 14, 2011 at 05.16 pm

@NavyChiefinUSA: That’s right religion is a choice while you’re born with your sexuality.  Thanks for the educated input though.

mikenola on September 13, 2011 at 07.52 am

this chart begs the question that you say “Finally, an active duty service member may not engage in fundraising for an LGBT equality cause or any other political cause at the DADT celebration if it is held on a military base or reservation.”

so does this somehow apply to religious causes who hold meetings on a base or in a base facility? It happens or at least used to happen before I retired and uniforms were worn.