Don't Ask

  • December 18, 2010
    Longtime opponents of the law that bars lesbians and gay men from serving openly in the military hailed the Senate's passage of a bill repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," as a civil rights victory.

    "We are on the brink of making history," said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "An end to ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' cannot happen soon enough. This arcane and costly policy has destroyed thousands of careers, wasted much-needed dollars, and failed to enhance our nation's security."

    The Senate passed the repeal bill by a vote of 65 to 31 earlier today. TPM reports, "It's all quite anticlimactic to the drama fans, but for the proponents of DADT repeal, this afternoon's vote is one that really matters."

    TPM also reported that Sen. Joe Manchin, the only Democrat to join with Republicans last week to defeat an effort to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," remained opposed to ending the law. He skipped the vote altogether, TPM reports, to attend a Christmas Party.

    The bill now goes to President Obama, who urged the Senate to pass the repeal measure, and has promised to sign it. TPM says that's likely to happen next week. 

    Obama applauded the vote, saying in a press statement, "the Senate has taken an historic step toward ending a policy that undermines our national security while violating the very ideals that our brave men and women in uniform risk their lives to defend."

    The Atlantic blogger Andrew Sullivan, a longtime opponent of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which was signed into law by former President Bill Clinton, lauded Obama's deliberate efforts to ensure that the repeal came out of Congress.

    "Without the Pentagon study, it wouldn't have passed," Sullivan, wrote. "Without keeping Lieberman [Sen. Joe Lieberman] inside the tent, it wouldn't have passed. Without the critical relationship between Bob Gates and Obama, it wouldn't have happened. It worked our last nerve; we faced at one point a true nightmare of nothing ... for years. And then we pulled behind this president, making it his victory and the country's victory, as well as ours."

  • August 17, 2010
    The military discharged 428 service members last year for violating its "don't ask, don't tell," policy, reports The Washington Post, citing a Palm Center study. According to the newspaper, the study found that the discharges included "disproportionate numbers of women and minorities."

    The Post notes:

    Women account for 14 percent of Army soldiers but received 48 percent of the Army's "don't ask" discharges in 2009, the study said. Six percent of the Marine Corps is female, but women accounted for 23 percent of its discharges. The Navy discharged only two officers for violating the policy in 2009, and both were Asian. The Army discharged five officers - two were black, one was Asian and two were white, the Palm Center said.

    The study also found that the "military continued to fire mission-critical specialists for being gay in fiscal year 2009." The Palm Center study is here.  

    The Palm Center's Nathaniel Frank talked with ACSblog about the history of the policy that bars lesbians and gay men from serving openly in the military, following an ACS panel discussion on efforts to repeal the policy. Frank's interview is available here and video of the full panel discussion is here. A Washington-Post-ABC News poll from earlier in the year revealed "majorities across party lines favor" allowing gays to serve openly.

  • February 12, 2010
    Recent polling suggests there may be growing public support for repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the ban on openly lesbians and gay men serving in the military.

    A Washington-Post-ABC News poll shows that "majorities across party lines favor" allowing gays to sever openly. The Washington Post, however, notes that the poll "reveals several sharp demographic divides. Men (65 percent) and seniors (69 percent) are less likely than are women (84 percent) and young adults (81 percent under age of 30) to say that gays should be allowed to serve if they have disclosed their sexual orientation. Knowing a gay person makes a big difference: Among those who say they have a gay friend or family member, 81 percent support allowing gay people to serve openly, compared with 66 percent who say they do not know someone who is gay."

    The New York Times reported yesterday on a Times/CBS News poll that showed "a majority of the public supporting allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the military." But The Times noted, the support for repeal varies depending on how the question is asked.

    The Times reported:

    The wording of the question proved to make a difference. Seven in 10 respondents said they favor allowing "gay men and lesbians" to serve in the military, including nearly 6 in 10 who said they should be allowed to serve openly. But support was somewhat lower among those who were asked about allowing "homosexuals" to serve, with 59 percent in favor, including 44 percent who support allowing them to serve openly.

    The new polling follows President Obama's effort to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which was put in place during the Clinton administration, and top Pentagon officials' statements supporting a repeal. Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, told a Senate committee that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," should be repealed. Adm. Mullen told the Senate Armed Services Committee "allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do."

    Last fall, ACS hosted a panel discussion examining the history of the policy and the efforts for repealing it. Video of the discussion is available here. Following that panel discussion, Nathaniel Frank, a senior research fellow at the Palm Center, talked with ACSblog about the history and impact of the policy. See Frank's interview here.

  • November 12, 2009
    Rep. Barney Frank, tells Advocate.com that repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," (DADT) policy, which bars lesbians and gay men from serving openly in the military, will be housed within next year's defense reauthorization bill. The Progress Report notes that interview here. "Military issues are always done as part of the overall authorization bill," Frank told Advocate.com. Frank also said that the Obama administration "is totally committed to this and has been from the beginning."

    During a recent ACS event on the policy, which was created during the Clinton administration, Lawrence Korb, Nathaniel Frank, Aubrey Sarvis and Eric Alva discussed various methods for repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, talked about the legislative and executive branch efforts to repeal DADT, saying that the president "has said repeatedly that he supports repeal." But Sarvis, said it has yet to be determined what role the president will play in the legislative push to repeal DADT. Video of the panel discussion is available here. Also following the event, Frank, senior research fellow at the Palm Center, talked with ACSblog about the creation of DADT.

  • October 1, 2009
    Lesbians and gay men do not undermine military cohesion and should be allowed to serve in the military without fear of being kicked out pursuant to the "don't ask, don't tell," policy, an Air Force colonel writes in an official military magazine. The New York Times reports that the article by Col. Om Prakash won the 2009 Secretary of Defense National Security Essay competition and was reviewed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen before appearing in the Joint Force Quarterly. Prakash maintains that "it is time for the administration to examine how to implement the repeal of the ban." Prakash's article notes that since its implementation in 1993, more than 12,000 lesbians and gay men have been discharged.

    On Tuesday, ACS hosted a panel discussion on "don't ask, don't tell." Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), outlined efforts in Congress to repeal the ban. He said hearings in the House Arm Services Committee on a House bill, which has a "record number" of sponsors, to overturn the ban are expected later this year or early next year. At the moment there is not a companion bill in the Senate. But, Sarvis said that a "number of Democrats" are ready for an introduction of the bill and that SLDN expects a Senate bill soon. Regarding the Obama administration, Sarvis said the president has said repeatedly that he supports repeal of the ban. But, Sarvis said that Congress still has not heard from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mullen on the issue and that lawmakers have indicated they will give great weight to their positions. Watch the entire panel discussion below.