No, we do not need another specific Congressional policy to address the issue of gays in the military. President Bill Clinton announced the militaryâ€™s policy on gay service members on July 19, 1993 almost 23 years ago. The policy, known as â€œdonâ€™t ask, donâ€™t tell,â€ was costly and it diminished the moral standing of the United States and it weakened our security. It allowed closeted members of the military to serve, while prohibiting those in the military who were openly gay to serve. Prior to â€œdonâ€™t ask, donâ€™t tell,â€ there had been an outright ban on gays in the military.
In the years leading up to repeal, proponents of Donâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tell repeatedly claimed that open service would undermine the unit cohesion and readiness of the U.S. military. But no reputable study ever showed that allowing service by openly gay personnel compromises military effectiveness. Moreover, they continued to make those claims even after the Pentagon released a comprehensive pre-repeal survey of service members revealing that the vast majority of troops were already serving with someone they knew to be gay or lesbian, and that doing so in no way threatened unit cohesion or military readiness.
Nearly 23 years later it is clear that gay and lesbian troops were never a threat to military readiness and U.S. national security has been enhanced by the reality of open service, not diminished by it. Removing â€œdonâ€™t ask, donâ€™t tell,â€ in short, has enhanced bonding, trust, discipline and the rule of law inside the military, by eliminating conditions that had bred suspicion and mistreatment.
C. (2008, July 23). DON’T ASK DON’T TELL/GAYS IN THE MILITARY: 7.23.08 Hearing. Retrieved July 05, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ua3ZncXyDqI
In light of understanding how the Department of Defense needs to balance demands from Congress, the President, courts, military morale, and armed forces recruitment, it becomes easier to see why it took so long for repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) to pass. There are so many moving parts and yet the DoD needs to maintain an unshakable resolve.
Despite the long time frame and discomfort in shifting regulations, DADT absolutely needed to be repealed for a new Congressional Policy. A study by the American Psychological Association found that over 70% of service men and women would be very or somewhat comfortable with interacting with openly lesbian and gay people. Furthermore, a majority of military personnel studied said they would see little to no difference in either their personal morale or their troop’s morale (2010).
More progress was made last week when the ban on openly
transgender people serving in the military was repealed (
Lamothe 2016). I think it’s wonderful that no one
needs to choose between being who they are and serving their country.
American Psychological Association Report of the Task Force on Sexual Orientation and Military Service [Abstract]. (2010).
PsycEXTRA Dataset. doi:10.1037/e516792010-001
Lamothe, D. (2016, June 30). The Pentagonâ€™s ban on transgender service just fell â€” but the details are complicated. Retrieved July 06, 2016, from
As a member of the military, I, initially, thought that homosexuals serving openly in the military would cause problems. I believed that there would be a great increase in discrimination and sexual harassment complaints from people who were “anti-gay”. I thought that some heterosexual soldiers would feel uncomfortable living in such close proximity to homosexual soldiers, and thus, additional complaints would surface.
I was completely incorrect. Since the repeal in 2011, I have not seen one instance of “intolerance” in respect to one’s sexual orientation. I believe that this can be attributed to society’s attitude toward homosexuality, in general, and the military’s strict anti-sexual harassment policies.