HRC Blog

Six Months Later: The Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Today marks the six-month anniversary of the official repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The discriminatory policy, which barred openly gay, lesbian and bisexual persons from military service, was in effect from December 21, 1993 to September 20, 2011.

The day after the policy was reversed, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen praised repeal for making the U.S. military a more united force: “With implementation of the new law fully in place, we are a stronger joint force, a more tolerant joint force, a force of more character and more honor, more in keeping with our own values."

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta echoed his words: "Thanks to this change, I believe we move closer to achieving the goal at the foundation of the values that America is all about: equality, equal opportunity and dignity for all Americans.”

What has been notable about repeal is that, notwithstanding the warnings of anti-repeal advocates, the transition to open service has gone smoothly – without any significant disruption to the forces.

HRC members and supporters played a critical role in achieving repeal. Over 625,000 emails and 50,000 handwritten pro-repeal messages were delivered to Congress. Across the country, members lobbied their elected officials and engaged with the 20,000 veterans HRC mobilized to speak out in favor of repeal.

Despite repeal of DADT, lesbian and gay military families are still treated as second class citizens because military policies and the Defense of Marriage Act prevent them from receiving equal access to employment benefits, such as medical and housing benefits. In addition, transgender Americans are still prohibited from serving in the military as a result of antiquated policies at the Department of Defense. Our nation will be stronger when our military allows willing and able individuals equal opportunity to serve their country regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

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