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Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010

The Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 (Repeal Act) was enacted to repeal the former Department of Defense Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy (DADT) concerning the service of homosexuals in the Armed Forces.

On October 1, 1993, President William J. Clinton signed the DADT, which theoretically lifted a ban on homosexual service in the armed forces that had been instituted during World War II, though in effect it continued as a statutory ban.  Under the former DADT, gays, lesbians and bisexuals technically were not allowed to serve in the armed forces.  In order to serve their country, such individuals had to hide their true identity and sexual orientation.  If their true identity and sexual orientation was revealed or was later known to the Department of Defense, they would be summarily discharged from the military.  The Repeal Act was intended to end this separate but, unequal practice of keeping the true identity and sexual orientation of gays, lesbians and bisexuals secret.  The Repeal Act gives gays, lesbians and bisexuals the same rights to openly disclose their true identities and sexual orientation as their heterosexual colleagues while serving in the military.

History of the DADT

  • In 1950, President Harry S. Truman signs the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which established discharge protocols for homosexual service members
  • In 1982, President Ronald Regan further enhanced President Truman’s ideals that “homosexuality is incompatible with military service” therefore, people who engaged in homosexual acts or stated that they were homosexual or bisexual will be discharged
  • In 1992, during the presidential campaign, then candidate William J. Clinton promised to lift the ban if he is elected President of the United States
  • In December 1993, President William J. Clinton issues a defense directive that military applicants should not be asked about their sexual orientation, later known as DADT
  • In June 1994, former Colonel Margarethe “Grethe” Cammermeyer was reinstated to the Washington National Guard after a federal court ruled that her dishonorable discharge and the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military were unconstitutional
  • In 2003, former President William J. Clinton called for an end to DADT
  • In 2008, during the presidential campaign, then candidate Barack H. Obama promised a full repeal of DADT if he is elected President of the United States
  • On December 18, 2010, the Senate voted to repeal DADT

On December 22, 2010, President Barack H. Obama signed the Repeal Act into law, which effectively ended DADT on September 20, 2011.  At the time of the signing, President Obama made the following observations and comments: “We are not a nation that says, ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’.  We are a nation that says, Out of many, we are one.  We are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot.  We are a nation that believes all men and women are created equal.  Those are the ideals that generations have fought for.  Those are the ideals that we uphold today, and now it is my honor to sign this bill into law.”

In is important to note that the Repeal Act did not change the language of Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice which bans sodomy by service members.