Two Years After ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal, Threats of Gay “Chaos” Still Unfounded

by Charles Joughin

Military recruitment, readiness strengthened by repeal of discriminatory law

WASHINGTON – Tomorrow marks the second anniversary of the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), a law that prohibited qualified gay and lesbian Americans from serving openly in the armed forces.  Contrary to the arguments made by many who sought to keep the discriminatory policy in place, the evidence suggests that the impact on our Armed Forces has been a positive one.

“Two years after the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the dire warnings by the opponents of lifting the ban are still utterly laughable,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin.  “The end of DADT didn’t have a single negative effect, and for personnel now serving openly, repeal transformed their lives for the better.”

At the time, repeal of the law enjoyed widespread support among military leadership and the American public. Yet supporters of the discriminatory policy alleged that allowing openly-gay and lesbian Americans to serve would cause great detriment to the Armed Forces, and endanger the lives of service members.  Dire and outlandish predictions used to argue against repeal of DADT have since been debunked. 

PREDICTION: "[Lifting the ban] may even prove decisive to the viability of the all-volunteer force. That viability may, in turn, determine our ability to avoid in the years ahead -- as we have for the past four decades -- a return to conscription to meet our requirements for warriors in those conflicts." [Frank Gaffney, Jr., Center for Security Policy, 2011]

TRUTH: Military recruitment has met or exceeded goals for both FY2012 and FY2013; “In FY2011 and FY2012, all of the Active Components achieved their recruit quantity goals and recruit quality was very strong. Retention also remained strong, with all of the Services close to or exceeding their goals. Nearly all of the Reserve Components met or exceeded their quantity goals, while quality remained high.” [Congressional Research Service, May 2013]

PREDICTION:“I hope that when we pass this legislation that we will understand that we are doing great damage.  And we could possibly and probably… harm the battle effectiveness vital to the survival of our young men and women in the military.” [Sen. John McCain, December 2010]

TRUTH: Repeal was “a nonevent” for the Marine Corps. “I’m very pleased with how it has gone.” [Gen. James Amos, November 2011]

PREDICTION:"The core values of the military profession would be seen by many to have changed fundamentally if homosexuals were allowed to serve. This would undermine institutional loyalty and the moral basis for service, sacrifice, and commitment."[Military Working Group on homosexuality in the military, 1993]

TRUTH:“Our nation has always benefited from the service of gay and lesbian soldiers, sailors, airmen, and coast guardsmen, and Marines.  Now they can serve openly, with full honor, integrity and respect.  This makes our military and our nation stronger, much stronger.  The Department of Defense is very proud of its contributions to our nation's security.  We're very proud of everything the gay and lesbian community have contributed and continue to contribute.  With their service, we are moving closer to fulfilling the country's founding vision, that all of us are created equal.” [Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, June 2013]

Following a U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), same-sex marriages are now recognized by the Department of Defense. HRC continues to push for full equality in the armed forces. 

“In light of DADT repeal, the sacrifices made by all who serve, as well as by their families, should be valued and recognized, and this country owes these heroes every possible measure of support,” continued Griffin. “Inequality in the military persists, however, and we’ve got to keep fighting to ensure that discrimination is erased once and for all,”

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.


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