Pentagon Report Supports Ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"


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Pentagon Report Supports Ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

By Daniel Baxter

December 2, 2010 - A report released by the Pentagon on Wednesday found that a large majority of respondents to a survey of active-duty and reserve service members and their families say that ending the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy barring lesbian and gay service members from serving openly would not have an adverse effect on military operations.  

Don't ask, don't tell (DADT) is the common term for the policy restricting the United States military from efforts to discover or reveal closeted gay, lesbian, and bisexual servicemembers or applicants, while barring those who are openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual from military service.  

The restrictions are mandated by federal law Pub.L. 103-160 (10 U.S.C. ? 654). The policy prohibits people who "demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts" from serving in the armed forces of the United States, because their presence "would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability." (10 U.S.C. ? 654(b))

Lieutenant Colonel Victor Fehrenbach (His Story)

The act prohibits any homosexual or bisexual person from disclosing his or her sexual orientation or from speaking about any homosexual relationships, including marriages or other familial attributes, while serving in the United States armed forces. The act specifies that service members who disclose they are homosexual or engage in homosexual conduct shall be separated (discharged) except when a service member's conduct was "for the purpose of avoiding or terminating military service" or when it "would not be in the best interest of the armed forces" (10 U.S.C. ? 654(e)). 

As it exists, DADT specifies that the "don't ask" part of the policy indicates that superiors should not initiate investigation of a servicemember's orientation in the absence of disallowed behaviors, though credible and articulable evidence of homosexual behavior may cause an investigation. Violations of this aspect through persecutions and harassment of suspected servicemen and women resulted in the policy's current formulation as "don't ask, don't tell, don't harass, don't pursue." 

In 2010 the House of Representatives passed a bill that would repeal the relevant sections of the law, but this measure was stalled in the Senate. President Obama and Defense Secretary Gates have both called for the policy to be repealed. In the autumn of 2010, a federal district court judge declared the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy unconstitutional and issued an injunction prohibiting the Department of Defense from enforcing or complying with the policy. The appellate court stayed the injunction pending appeal; thus Don't Ask, Don't Tell remains in effect. On November 12, the US Supreme Court declined to overturn the stay. 


In a statement issued on Tuesday, President Barack Obama urged the Senate to act swiftly so he can sign the repeal of the so-called ?Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell? law this year, citing the Defense Department?s report as proof that the nation ?can transition to a new policy in a responsible manner.? 

?As Commander in Chief, I have pledged to repeal the ?don?t ask, don?t tell? law because it weakens our national security, diminishes our military readiness, and violates fundamental American principles of fairness and equality by preventing patriotic Americans who are gay from serving openly in our armed forces. At the same time, as Commander in Chief, I am committed to ensuring that we understand the implications of this transition, and maintain good order and discipline within our military ranks. That is why I directed the Department of Defense earlier this year to begin preparing for a transition to a new policy. 

"With the release of this report, Congress can no longer delay ending this discriminatory policy once and for all. For far too long, this policy has been an affront to our fundamental values of fairness and equality, and has compromised the effectiveness of our military. Our men and women in uniform deserve to serve their country with dignity. It is long past time for the Senate to ensure that this unfair and unconstitutional practice is finally brought to an end," said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU.


"It should be no surprise that allowing gay and lesbian people to serve openly in the military will have no detrimental effect on the armed forces. We know from court cases that the military suspends 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' investigations in order to send suspected gay service members to combat zones overseas, only to re-open the investigations when service members return from deployment?.  

?That stark fact highlights that the military doesn't agree with the very premise of the law ? that openly gay service members would disrupt unit morale. It's time to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and let these patriots serve their country," said James Esseks, Director of the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project

 See Reports

- Report Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of "Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell"
- Support Plan for Implementation
- Findings From the Surveys



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