About “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
Timeline for Repeal
- On July 22, 2011, President Obama, Defense Secretary Panetta, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen certified that the U.S. military is ready for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) repeal, which will go into effect 60 days after the date of certification on September 20, 2011.
- On December 22, 2010, President Obama signed the bill allowing for repeal of DADT.
- On December 18, the Senate passed the House’s stand-alone DADT bill, 65-31.
- On December 15, the House passed a stand-alone DADT bill, 250-175. This bill reflected the language of the repeal provision in the NDAA.
- On September 21, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) filibustered the entire NDAA, which included DADT repeal, and did so again on December 9.
- On December 2, 2010, Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense, told the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) they wanted repeal to happen that year.
- On May 27, 2010, the House of Representatives adopted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a vote of 234 to 194 that would lead to the repeal of DADT.
- The SASC added an identical provision in the bill it reported to the Senate the same day.
What Is "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"?
- Passed by Congress in 1993, DADT is a law mandating the discharge of openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual service members.
- More than 14,500 service members have been fired under the law since 1993.
Fact: Military Leaders Support Repeal
- During the House Armed Services Committee's (HASC) DADT repeal oversight hearing on April 7, 2011, the service chiefs reported that the response from service members to training on implementation of repeal has been overwhelmingly positive to date.
- General Peter W. Chiarelli, Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, reported that “training is not disruptive,” and General James F. Amos, USMC Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps, said, “There hasn’t been recalcitrant pushback; there hasn’t been anxiety over it from the forces in the field.” Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations, U.S. Navy, reminded the committee that a service member’s sexual orientation does not result in “disruption to the mission,” and General Norton A. Schwartz, USAF Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force, reiterated that every airman is entitled to “respect and equal opportunity.”
- Admiral Mullen, 12/2/10 SASC hearing: “My personal opinion is now my professional view, that this is a policy change that we can make in a relatively low-risk fashion ... given time and strong leadership.”
- Former Chairman John Shalikashvili, Gen. Colin Powell, and former Vice President Richard Cheney said it was time to re-examine this law.
- A Joint Force Quarterly article concludes, “After a careful examination, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that unit cohesion will be negatively affected if homosexuals serve openly.”
- When asked about serving in a unit with a gay co-worker, the Pentagon’s Comprehensive Review Working Group (CRWG) reported that 92 percent of service members believe the unit’s “ability to work together” was “very good,” “good,” or “neither good nor poor.”
- The same report revealed that the younger generation of service members, those who fight America’s 21st century wars, largely don’t care about sexual orientation and understand it has nothing to do with job performance.
- The CRWG: “The risk of repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell to overall military effectiveness is low.”
- As part of the CRWG report, the RAND Corp. updated its 1993 study, which concluded that openly gay people in the U.S. military do not negatively impact unit cohesion, morale, good order or military readiness.
- Several other military-commissioned and GAO studies have concluded that open service does not undermine military readiness, troop morale or national security.
- Every service chief said he will be able to implement repeal.
- U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos said of implementation: “I, and the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, will personally lead this effort, thus ensuring the respect and dignity due all Marines."
Public Support to End "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
- A growing majority of Americans – 72 percent – support repeal, according to CNN’s poll on Nov. 17, 2010, up from 67 percent in September.
- Majorities of weekly churchgoers (60 percent) and conservatives (58 percent) also support DADT repeal (Gallup, 2009).
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Hurts Military Readiness
- The U.S. must recruit and retain the greatest number of the best and brightest - especially while we are fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- The Pentagon reports that 75 percent of young Americans are ineligible to serve in our military because of inadequate education, criminal records or weight problems. Conduct waivers have been given for recruits with records of bomb threats, sex crimes and negligent or vehicular homicide. And yet, qualified, smart, law-abiding and fit youths who want to serve are being excluded merely because of their sexual orientation.
- According to the GAO, as of 2003, the military had discharged more than 750 mission-critical service members and more than 320 with skills in important languages such as Arabic, Korean and Farsi (GAO, Military Personnel: Financial Costs and Loss of Critical Skills Due to DOD’s Homosexual Conduct Policy Cannot Be Completely Estimated).
America's Allies Support Open Military Service
- Thirty-five countries, according to the Pentagon study’s findings, allow gays to serve openly.
- Studies of the militaries in Australia, Israel, Great Britain and Canada have shown open service to have no adverse effect on enrollment or retention.
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is Expensive
- A 2003 GAO study identified almost $200 million in costs for the first ten years of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” while concluding that total costs could not be estimated.
- A follow-up study by an expert commission put these costs at more than $363 million.
LGBT Patriots Are Serving with Honor and Distinction
- Today, there are at least 66,000 gay Americans serving on active duty and one million gay veterans in the United States, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA.
- Admiral Mullen told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he had served with gays since 1968.
Federal Government Agencies Do Not Discriminate
- The CIA, FBI, State Department, the Defense Department on the civilian side, and defense contractors do not discriminate based on sexual orientation.
Learn more about how the military’s current ban on openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members came to be the law of the land.
Read the statute that made discrimination against gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans the law of the land.
Read Department of Defense directives, memos, and other documents related to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Learn more about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” from reports commissioned by Congress and the Department of Defense.
Learn more about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” from SLDN’s annual reports evaluating the discriminatory policy.
Explore the existing research on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and its effects on military readiness, and explore polling research on the opinions of political leaders, major newspapers, and ordinary Americans regarding “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.
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