"Don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) was the official United States policy on military service by gays, bisexuals, and lesbians, instituted by President Bill Clinton's Administration on February 28, 1994, when Department of Defense Directive 1304.26 issued on December 21, 1993, took effect, lasting until September 20, 2011. The policy prohibited military personnel from discriminating against or harassing closeted homosexual or bisexual service members or applicants, while barring openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual persons from military service. This policy on service by gays and lesbians in the armed forces was mandated by a United States Federal law, which was signed today, November 30, in 1993.
The policy prohibited 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."
The policy was introduced as a compromise measure by President Clinton who campaigned in 1992 on the promise to allow all citizens to serve in the military regardless of sexual orientation. Commander Craig Quigley, a Navy spokesman, expressed the opposition of many in the military at the time when he said, "Homosexuals are notoriously promiscuous" and that in shared shower situations, heterosexuals would have an "uncomfortable feeling of someone watching."
The act prohibited 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 specified that service members who disclose that they are homosexual or engage in homosexual conduct should 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." Since DADT ended in 2011, persons who are openly homosexual and bisexual have been able to serve.
The "don't ask" part of the DADT policy specified that superiors should not initiate investigation of a service member's orientation without witnessing disallowed behaviors, though credible evidence of homosexual behavior could be used to initiate an investigation. Unauthorized investigations and harassment of suspected servicemen and women led to an expansion of the policy to "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue, don't harass."
After the policy was introduced in 1994, the military discharged more than 13,000 troops from the military under DADT. The number of discharges per fiscal year under DADT dropped sharply after the September 11 attacks and remained comparatively low through to the repeal. However, discharges still exceeded 600 every year until 2009.
Legislation to repeal DADT was enacted in December 2010, specifying that the policy would remain in place until the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certified that repeal would not harm military readiness, followed by a 60-day waiting period. A July 6, 2011, ruling from a federal appeals court barred further enforcement of the U.S. military's ban on openly gay service members. President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Pancetta, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen sent that certification to Congress on July 22, 2011, which set the end of DADT to September 20, 2011.
|President Barack Obama signs the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010.|