Issues

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Dont Ask, Dont Tell

DADT has represented overt discrimination. No other law has mandated firing someone because they are lesbian, gay or bisexual. As the repeal of DADT is implemented, we must remain vigilant as the military community adapts.

Passed by Congress in 1993, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) required the discharge of openly gay, lesbian and bisexual service members. More than 14,000 service members were fired under the law since 1994, including many Black LGBT service members. Because they were discharged under DADT at higher rates than any other segment of the population some studies suggested that women and racial minorities were disproportionately affected by Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. In fact, black women appeared to be especially vulnerable while this unjust law was in place.

How the Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Became Law
  • Working group - The Defense Department established a working group to study how to best implement repeal and in particular the impact of repeal on military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.
  • Standalone legislation - By a vote of 250-175, the House of Representatives passed a stand-alone DADT bill with language that had previously been included in the National Defense Authorization Act repeal amendment. The Senate passed the House’s version of the stand-alone bill by a vote of 65-31.
  • Presidential Bill Signing – President Obama signed DADT repeal legislation into law on December 22, 2010 but because the law would not take effect until after certification and the 60-day waiting period, service members were advised to remain closeted.
  • Certification and 60-Day Waiting Period – On July 22, 2011, the President, Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs certified that new regulations were prepared and that repeal was consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces. Certification signaled that the American military is ready for its policy as Pentagon officials said that nearly two million service members had been trained in preparation for gay men and women serving openly in their ranks. A two-month waiting period followed certification.
  • Law takes effect - Enactment of the repeal took place on September 20, 2011.