Issue: Federal Advocacy

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010

Public Law No. 111-321

September 20, 2011: A Historic Day

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT)—the law prohibiting gay and lesbian people from serving openly in the military—is officially in the dustbin of history. For 17 years, the law prohibited qualified gay and lesbian Americans from serving in the armed forces and sent a message that discrimination was acceptable. During the final days of 2010, legislation passed both chambers of Congress that provided a pathway for DADT repeal. The president signed this legislation on December 22, 2010, but DADT was not repealed until September 20, 2011, after the President informed Congress that the Department of Defense had prepared the necessary policies and regulations to implement repeal and those policies and regulations were consistent with military standards for readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention.

 

That day was the beginning of a new chapter for the nation's military. Gay and lesbian service members previously discharged under DADT now have the opportunity to re-enlist. Gay and lesbian Americans eager to serve their country but not willing to compromise who they are as individuals will, for the first time ever, be able to openly join. Finally, the brave men and women currently serving will have the freedom to come out and be honest with their comrades about who they are and who they love.

 

HRC worked steadily, including dedicating over $3 million in financial resources, to bring about legislative repeal of DADT. HRC members and supporters played a critical role as well, sending over 625,000 e-mails to members of Congress urging them to support repeal and helping gather nearly 50,000 handwritten pro-repeal messages for delivery to Capitol Hill.
 

Where We Go From Here

Following the repeal of DADT, we must continue to fight for full equality for LGBT service members. In September 2011, HRC released a memo that provided five actions federal legislators could take to help our military move closer to equality:
 

  • Oppose discriminatory legislative actions brought by anti-LGBT lawmakers.

  • Support the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) as a means of ending the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

  • Provide oversight of military personnel decisions related to DADT repeal, particularly as they pertain to the extension and fair application of benefits.

  • Review the regulations that prohibit transgender individuals from serving in the military.

  • Repeal Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which criminalizes intimacy between same-sex couples.
     

For more information, please contact HRC at legislation@hrc.org.
 

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 20, 2011.