Next Steps for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Repeal
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 14,000 service members have been fired under DADT since 1993.
- A legislative path to DADT repeal was passed in Congress and signed into law on December 22, 2010.
- Certification of repeal was issued on July 22, 2011, by President Obama, Defense Secretary Panetta, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen. "Don't Ask" will remain law until September 20, 2011, however.
LEGISLATIVE ACTION TO END "DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL"
- On December 15, 2010, the House passed a stand-alone DADT repeal bill, 250-175. This bill reflected the language of the repeal provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), where repeal language had been included by votes in the House and the Senate Armed Services Committee in May 2010.
- On December 18, 2010, the Senate passed the House’s stand-alone DADT repeal bill, 65-31.
- President Obama signed the bill on December 22, 2010.
- Certification of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) repeal was issued on July 22, 2011, meaning that DADT repeal will go into effect on September 20, 2011.
WHAT DOES "CERTIFICATION" MEAN?
- Under the repeal legislation passed by Congress, the President, Secretary of Defense, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have “certified”:
1. That the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered the recommendations contained in the [Pentagon’s Comprehensive Review Working Group, or CRWG] report and the report’s proposed plan of action.
2. That the Department of Defense (DoD) has prepared the necessary policies and regulations for repeal.
3. That the implementation of necessary policies and regulations for repeal is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.
- This written certification has been transmitted by the President to the congressional Armed Services committees so that the repeal process can now move forward.
TRAINING EFFORTS ACROSS SERVICES
- In accordance with the CRWG’s implementation report, DoD is tasked with executing education and training programs around DADT repeal. [A full copy of the report and implementation plan can be found at: ]http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2010/0610_gatesdadt/.]
- As of June 6, 2011, military officials reported that half the total force was trained. The Air Force and Marines have already trained most of their force; the Navy will train the bulk of its force by the end of June; the Army plans to train most of its active-duty force by mid-July and reservists by mid-August.
- Sec. Gates said in an interview on June 13, 2011, “I think people are pretty satisfied with the way this process is going forward. I think people have been mildly and pleasantly surprised at the lack of pushback in the training.”
WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW THAT CERTIFICATION HAS BEEN ISSUED?
- A 60-day period has commenced. Once this time elapses on September 20, 2011, repeal will take effect.
- Upon certification, the President should issue an executive order barring discrimination based on service members’ sexual orientation and gender identity.
- DoD should create special boards for changing discharge paperwork and processing re-accession for veterans discharged under DADT who wish to serve their country in the military once again.
- Transgender service members are not referenced in the DADT statute. However, changes to DoD regulations will be essential to permit transgender service.
- LGBT service members should be granted access to Military Equal Opportunity (MEO) channels.
- The fight to achieve LGBT parity will require changes to benefits statutes and challenges to existing laws, such as DOMA.
- Veterans must be aided as they seek redress for dishonorable and hurtful discharges, and access to the veterans benefits they earned.
NEW LEGISLATIVE LANGUAGE AFFECTING LGB SERVICE MEMBERS
- On May 11, 2011, the House Armed Services Committee passed 3 amendments to the 2012 NDAA that directly affect LGB service members. These amendments were included in the language of the NDAA by the full House on May 25, 2011.
- Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) introduced an amendment expanding certification to the service chiefs, despite their repeated testimony that this authority is not needed. If certification and open service occur before the NDAA is passed, however, such an amendment will be moot.
- Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s (R-MO) amendment unnecessarily restates DOMA for the military.
- Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) offered an amendment to prohibit the use of military installations for same-sex marriages, and to ban the participation of chaplains and DoD military and civilian personnel in such ceremonies. This amendment essentially expands DOMA, resulting in “DOMA-plus.”
- On June 17, 2011, the defense bill passed out of the Senate Armed Services Committee without harmful anti-repeal amendments. We now focus on the full Senate as the defense bill will come to the floor this summer. SLDN and the entire repeal coalition will continue to push back against ongoing attempts to disrupt the DADT repeal process.