“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy Affecting Military Readiness


The ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy’ (DADT) came into effect in 1993. The DADT policy does not allow members of the US military to divulge their sexual orientation especially if they are bisexuals or homosexuals. This policy does not allow service members who are lesbians, gay or bisexual to serve in the US military. This is because such acts would considerably negate morality as well as discipline upheld by the military (Burrelli, 2010). The decree itself does not prohibit asking service members about their sexual inclination. There is a significant compromise in regard to this policy, which remains a contentious issue in politics (Burrelli, 2010). Before this procedure came into effect, there was a decrease in the percentage of military persons sent home for homosexuality. Since 1993, this number has increased tremendously until 2001. Evidently, the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy’ substantially affects military readiness as well as unit consistency thus the need to exude care.

Over the latest years, significant proportions of congress members have articulated interest in making alteration to the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy. There are two bills, S. 3065 and H.R. 1283, discussed in the 111th congress (Burrelli, 2010). These bills would substitute DADT procedure; putting in place a policy that does not distinguish individuals as per their sexual orientation (Bateman, 2003). Gates announced amendments in law of 1993. He voiced that a flag officer or a general are the only persons allowed disciplining military members who exhibit homosexuality. A third party can only render such information under pledge to individuals like, counselors, lawyers or a psychotherapist. Such information cannot be used in proceedings aimed at discharging military staff (Bateman, 2003).

Background Analysis

During the presidential campaign in 1992, Bill who was a contender then, promised to eradicate the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy’ if elected. The policies that existed then had been in effect since Carter’s management; homosexuals were not allowed to serve in the armed forces. Several policy makers and the general public sturdily rejected this response. In response, in early 1993, Clinton initiated a short-term accord which gave the Department of Defense (DOD) a chance to explore the issue and come up with a ‘draft executive order’ that would eliminate discrimination based on sexual inclination (Center for Military Readiness, 2002). Following the proclamation of the interim compromise, Clinton mentioned that the Joint Chief of Staff assented to eliminating questions from the enlistment application, pertaining to sexual inclination (Center for Military Readiness, 2002). One of constituent of the accord was to delay the enacting legislation until a congregational appraisal was complete.

‘The Senate and the House Armed Service committees’ reached a consensus after several hearings on the theme, in May 1993 (Center for Military Readiness, 2002). The selected approach did not allow the DOD to make inquiries regarding sexual inclination of the military. They needed to keep homosexuality to themselves; if not, one would be discarded from the service or applicants would be denied the chance to join the service. Eventually, in the 19th of July 1993, Clinton announced the new policy (Eaklor, 2008). It is essential to note that ‘don’t pursue’ was not included in the President’s statement. Not only did it say the opposite to the president’s policy, but also seemed to hinder the enforcement of bylaws and laws that implement the entire policy. This is by restricting the function of the military through ‘don’t pursue’. Les Aspin, who was in charge of Defense then, reviewed this concept at a hearing. He articulated that individuals would concede their same-sex inclination without risking examination or discharge. However, he later mentioned that, in case of an examination, such statements could turn into plausible grounds for discharge hearings (Eaklor, 2008).

The policy announced by Clinton was largely based on sexual inclination, which has led to concerns regarding the expedient classification of the term. It became subject to different interpretations. An ambiguous interpretation of the policy led to the signing of the ‘FY 1994 National Defense Authorization Act’ into law (Eaklor, 2008). According to this novel law, a military member would be discharged if he or she was associated with homosexuality. The same would happen if an affiliate admitted they were homosexual or even bisexual. This also applied to an affiliate who went into nuptial with a person of comparable sex. The law made it simple to ask recruits about their sexuality, having been banned earlier (Center for Military Readiness, 2002). Discharge of the new DOD policies for the accomplishment of the new law took place on the 22-05-1993. The words used in these conventions showed that the person in charge of Defense wanted to integrate limitations in the statute as well as the president’s aspiration to allow homosexuals into the military. The term ‘homosexual orientation’ in the policy was later deleted following the admission of William Perry as the new ‘Secretary of Defense’ in 1994 (Center for Military Readiness, 2002).

Recent Developments

In January 2010, Obama articulated his goal to work with legislature to abolish the statute that barred homosexuals as well as bisexuals from serving in the military. After extensive conference, the relevant authorities reached a consensus (Burrelli, 2010). In February 2010, during the ‘Senate Armed Service Committee’ hearing, the Secretary of Defense and Joint Chief of Staff’s Chairman announced that homosexuals would be allowed to join the military (Burrelli, 2010). The announcement of significant changes regarding the implementation of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy took place in March 2010 (Burrelli, 2010).

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy is quite discriminatory and; therefore, disrupts military readiness as well as national security. It also puts members of the US army, serving overseas at considerable risk (Burrelli, 2010). There are several homosexuals and bisexuals who have served in the US military in the past. The question pertains to whether Americans will continue lying about their sexual inclination in order to serve their country.

The Military Readiness Enhancement Act, H.R. 1283, of 2009 and S. 3065, of 2010 would abolish the policy regarding same-sex orientation in the military that is currently in place. It would bar ‘Homeland Security and Defense secretaries’ from discerning members of the military as well as applicants based on their sexual preference (Burrelli, 2010). Additionally, this act would allow the re-appointment of qualified individuals previously discharged for homosexual or bisexual acts, into the military. Most importantly, the act would need both Secretaries to put in writing the bylaws that oversee the demeanor of individual members in the military as well as impose them without focusing on individual sexual preferences (Center for Military Readiness, 2002).


Bateman, G. (2003) Don’t ask, don’t tell: debating the gay ban in the military: Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers

Burrelli, D.F. (2010) “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:” The Law and Military Policy on Same-Sex Behavior: Washington DC: Congressional Research Service

Center for Military Readiness (2002) The Homosexual Exclusion Law Vs. The Clinton “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy: Web.

Eaklor, V.L. (2008) Queer America: a GLBT history of the 20th century: Connecticut: ABC-CLIO.

Parco, J. E. & Levy, D.A. (2010) Attitudes Aren’t Free: Thinking Deeply About Diversity in the U.S Armed Forces: Alabama: Air University Press.

Pallone, N.J. (2000) Race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, violent crime: the realities and the myths: New York: Routledge.

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