Discrimination in the Military

Discrimination in the Military

On September 20, 2011 the policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) was officially ended and for the first time in United States history gay, lesbian and bisexual service members could serve openly and proudly in the Armed Services. According to Servicemembers Legal Defense Network between 1993 and 2011 approximately 14,500 LGB people were discharged under DADT. In 2011 a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that discharges and replacement under DADT cost the government on average nearly $53,000 per case for a total cost of more than $193 million in just the 2004–2009 period. From the beginning DADT was a failure — it unnecessarily ruined lives and cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars while doing nothing for national security.

During the 2008 presidential election campaigns DADT was a major topic of debate. Candidate Obama at the time pledged to work with Congress to overturn the ban. At the end of 2010 the U.S. Senate and House passed legislation to permit the repeal of DADT and the President signed the bill into law on December 22, 2010. Approximately 10-months later, after the president signed the certification order for DADT, the policy was officially ended on September 20, 2011.

But we're far from done. Transgender people are still prohibited from serving openly because of discriminatory medical regulations. Yet transgender people serve in the closet at astounding rates. Our National Transgender Discrimination Survey shows that 20% of transgender people serve in the military — that's one out of every five transgender people! Only 10% of the entire United States population serves in the military at some point in their lives, meaning that transgender people serve at twice the rate of the general population. The Department of Defense urgently needs to review and update its medical standards to judge the qualifications of transgender service members based on the merits and not outdated medical information.

All who are able and willing to serve should be able to, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The medical regulations that ban transgender people from serving have the same human and economic cost as were incurred by service members and the military under Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

DADT Timeline:

Jan. 16, 1981: President Reagan issues Directive 1332.14 to make uniform the military's ban on LGB people serving in the military.

Dec. 21, 1993: President Clinton issues updated Directive with the DADT compromise.

October 18, 2004: Log Cabin Republicans file suit challenging DADT.

March 2, 2005: Representative Meehan introduces the first Military Readiness and Enhancement Act to overturn DADT.

March 28, 2007: Representative Meehan introduces the Military Readiness and Enhancement Act again to overturn DADT.

March 3, 2009: After Rep. Meehan retired from Congress, Representative Ellen Tauscher introduced the Military Readiness and Enhancement Act of 2009.

July 2009: In 2009 Representative Tauscher left Congress and the Military Readiness and Enhancement Act was taken up by Representative Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania. August 5, 2009: Senator Lieberman introduces the Senate version of DADT repeal.

September 9, 2010: In a decision out of California, a federal district judge ruled DADT unconstitutional in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States

December 15, 2010: The U.S. House of Representatives passes the repeal of DADT.

December 18, 2010: The U.S. Senate passes the repeal of DADT.

December 22, 2010: The president signed the repeal of DADT, beginning the certification process.

July 22, 2011: The president and top military leaders certified that the military was prepared to end DADT.

September 20, 2011: The DADT policy officially came to an end.