“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Permanently Silenced

Today ends the 17-year history of the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, as President Obama signs the repeal act into law.  The repeal stops the ban of openly gay soldiers from serving in the military, which resulted in the discharge of over 14,000 troops.

The repeal comes on the heels of a Pentagon study released earlier this month, which found that allowing openly gay troops to serve their country would not readily affect U.S. forces; however, the Army and the Marines expressed much higher opposition to the repeal than other military units did.

Such opposition will be considered in the further time and approvals necessary to implement the repeal.  Military officials must retool policies, regulations, and directives related to current “don’t ask, don’t tell” law—a process that could take several weeks.  Then several top figures, including the president, must certify that the repeal can proceed without harming military cohesion and preparation.  The repeal will officially occur 60 days after the certifications are complete.

Until the repeal is formally enacted, pending lawsuits against “don’t ask, don’t tell” will remain active.  Several cases against the military’s ban on openly gay service remain in the court system, including a case filed by the Service Member’s Legal Defense Network on behalf of three discharged officers, and a government appeal pending in San Francisco’s 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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