US Military Repeals “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy

Posted September 20th, 2011 at 3:22 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

After years of court battles and contentious debate, the U.S. military has formally ended its policy under which homosexuals could serve as long as they did not reveal their sexual orientation.

The policy known informally as “Don't ask, Don't tell,” ended Tuesday.

A statement from U.S. President Barack Obama says “patriotic Americans will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love.” He also said those who were discharged under the law should know that the country deeply values their service.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says dropping the policy brings the military closer to what the nation is all about: equality, equal opportunity, and dignity for all Americans.

The nation's top military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, called the repeal “a matter of integrity” and said the move creates a stronger and more tolerant joint force.

The policy was instituted in 1993, during the administration of President Bill Clinton, as a compromise to the complete ban on homosexuals in the military. President Barack Obama signed legislation in December to repeal the policy and allow gays and lesbians to openly serve.

During the nearly two decades the policy was in effect, about 14,000 members of the U.S. military were kicked out for revealing their orientation.

A service member known as “J.D. Smith,” who had led a group of actively serving gay and lesbian members of the military known as OutServe, revealed his real name and image for the first time, using a Twitter posting to say “My real name is Josh” and “may every closet door in the U.S. military be shattered. DADT (Don't ask, Don't tell) is dead.”

The Pentagon already has begun accepting applications from gay and lesbian recruits. A spokesman says preparations for the end of the policy have been under way for some time.