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Religious Tolerance logo

Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, & transsexuals (LGBT) serving openly in the military


Anti-DADT symbol 1993 to 2012: The military's "Don't ask;
don't tell" (DADT) policy. All viewpoints explained

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In this web site, "LGB" refers to the lesbian, gay and bisexual community.

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Overview about LGBs:

Prior to 1993, the military actively hunted down lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) service members and expelled them from the military.

In 1993, President Clinton signed a bill into law creating the Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy. LGB were allowed remain in the closet, keep their sexual orientation secret, and continue to serve in the military.

By 2011, the American public overwhelmingly supported an end to DADT. In December of that year, Congress passed a bill that President Obama subsequently signed into law. It repealed the DADT legislation, effective 60 days after the President, Defense Secretary, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff could certify that it could be ended without adversely affecting the operation of the Armed Forces. Certification occurred on 2011-JUL-22 and the DADT policy ended on 2012-SEP-20.

LGB Service members remained in a precarious position as we approached the 2012-NOV presidential elections. Some of the Republican candidates for the presidency had favored immediate reinstatement of the DADT policy by Congress. That would leave military members of the LGB community who had come out of the "closet" subject to expulsion from the military in 2013 if a Republican president and a Republican majority kn Congress was elected.

During 2012-AUG, Mitt Romney was selected by the Republican National Convention as the candidate for President. Perhaps because of the overwhelming public support for an end to DADT, and/or because of his personal liberal-leaning political philosophy, Romney indicated during his campaign that if he were elected president, he would not actively work to reinstate DADT. However if Republican members of Congress promoted a return of the DADT policy and passed a bill revoking the repeal, and if Romney were elected President, he might sign it into law and still claim that he did not actively work to promote the bill.

President Obama was reelected to a second term; he certainly will not reinstate DADT; he considers its repeal in 2011 one of the major accomplishments of his presidency.

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After DADT was overturned:

During 2013-JAN, President Obama (D) nominated Senator Chuck Hagel (R) as Secretary of Defense. Shortly afterwards, Hagel sent a letter to Senator Barbara Boxer stating:

I fully support the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 and value the service of all those who fight for our country. I know firsthand the profound sacrifice our service members and their families make, and if confirmed as Secretary of Defense, I will do everything possible to the extent permissible under current law to provide equal benefits to the families of all our service members."

Emily Hecht-McGowan, director of public policy for Family Equality Council, said:

"This commitment is a big step forward for military families with lesbian and gay parents. The Department of Defense has a lot of work to do to ensure that all military families have access to the benefits they’ve earned through service to their country. We look forward to working with the Administration to make sure that all military families, including those with lesbian and gay service members, are protected and respected."

However, as originally written, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) limited the ability of the federal government to grant equality to same-sex married couples. Its constitutionality was challenged by the Windsor v. United States lawsuit. The U.S. Supreme Court. heard oral arguments on DOMA in late 2013-MAR, and delivered a ruling in 2013-JUN. They declared Section 3 of DOMA to be unconstitutional. As a result, the federal government is now able to treat same-sex and opposite-sex married couples equally,

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Overview about the "T" in LGBT: transgender individuals and transsexuals:

It was rarely mentioned in the media that the repeal of DADT only protected lesbians, gays and bisexuals. Transgender individuals and transsexuals were still subject to expulsion from the military because the Pentagon regarded them at the time to be mentally ill, and unfit for service.

However, in mid 2016, the military started to implement a policy whereby transgender service member could join and remain in the military. This was unexpectedly reversed by a series of tweets by President Trump in 2017-JUL.

More details.

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Topics covered in this section:

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Reference used:

  1. "Hagel vows to push for equal benefits for gay and lesbian military families," Dallas Voice, 2013-JAN-15, at:

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Site navigation:

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality & Bisexuality > Challenges > here

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Copyright © 2000 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-MAY-25
Latest update: 2012-SEP-17
Author: B.A. Robinson

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