What Is “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue, Don’t Harass?”
Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue, Don't Harass contains exactly the same prohibitions on service by lesbians, gays and bisexuals that have been in place for fifty years. The Pentagon discharges gays, lesbians and bisexuals for statements, acts and marriage. In other words, the Pentagon fires service members who acknowledge they are lesbian, gay or bisexual, engage in sexual or affectionate conduct (such as handholding) with someone of the same gender, or have a relationship with someone "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue, Don't Harass contains exactly the same prohibitions on service by lesbians, gays and bisexuals that have been in place for fifty years."
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue, Don't Harass" is the only law in the land that authorizes the firing of an American for being gay. There is no other federal, state or local law like it. Indeed, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue, Don't Harass" is the only law that makes it illegal to come out. Many Americans view the policy as a benign gentlemen's agreement with discretion as the key to job security. That is simply not the case. An honest statement of one's sexual orientation to anyone, anywhere, anytime may lead to being fired.
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue, Don't Harass" is, however, significantly different from prior laws in three respects. First, Congressional and military leaders acknowledged, for the first time in 1993, that lesbians, gay men and bisexuals serve our nation and do so honorably. Second, the policy also states sexual orientation is no longer a bar to military service. Third, President Clinton, Congress and military leaders agreed to end intrusive questions about service members' sexual orientation and to stop the military's infamous investigations to ferret our suspected lesbian, gay and bisexual service members. They agreed to take steps to prevent anti-gay harassment. They agreed to treat lesbian, gay and bisexual service members even-handedly in the criminal justice system, instead of criminally prosecuting them in circumstances where they would not prosecute heterosexual service members. They agreed to implement the law with due regard for the privacy and associations of service members. They law became known in 1993 as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue" to signify the new limits to investigations and the intent to respect service members' privacy. In February 2000, in the wake of the murder of Private First Class Barry Winchell at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Pentagon officials added "Don't Harass" to the title of the policy.