Though Clinton admitted the plan was “not a perfect solution,” he presented it as a “major action forward” indigenous the currently ban.

You are watching: End of don’t ask don’t tell


In 1993, as soon as President bill Clinton signed the policy well-known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” right into law, it represented a compromise in between those that wanted to finish the longstanding ban on gays offer in the U.S. Military and those that felt having actually openly gay troops would hurt morale and cause problems within military ranks. Under the brand-new policy, gay, lesbian and also bisexual Americans could serve their country, as lengthy as they retained their sexual identification under wraps.

Though supporters of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” welcomed it together a more liberal policy that would permit gay americans to offer their country, gay rights activists complained the it required these organization members right into secrecy, while doing tiny to combat the prejudice versus them. Meanwhile, the military ongoing to discharge thousands of gays and lesbians indigenous service. 


Amid mounting opposition come “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” chairman Barack Obama announced that repeal in mid-2011, ending 17 year of secrecy and silence for lesbian, gay and bisexual members the the U.S. Military.

Before 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell': Expulsions, Exclusion

Though the U.S. Armed forces did not officially to exclude, LGBT business members from its ranks before the mid-20th century, “homosexual acts” were grounds because that discharge together far back as the Revolutionary War. In the after-effects of human being War I, the army made the act of sodomy a crime subject to punishment by a court-martial. 


As the country prepared for people War II, and also many psychiatrists classified homosexuality as a mental or behavior disorder, potential servicemen started undergoing psychiatric screening as a part of the induction process. In 1942, military regulations started listing homosexuality together an excludable characteristic for the an initial time.


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United State Air pressure Sergeant Leonard Matlovich holds his Honorable Discharge records at Langley Air pressure Base in Virginia. Even after far-ranging legal battles, Sgt. Matlovich was discharged indigenous the service due to the fact that he was gay.

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Despite this policy, thousands of thousands that gays and also lesbians offered in the military throughout the following several decades, keeping silent about their sexual identification for fear of being discharged, shedding their veterans’ services or worse. 

The half withstood challenges from the cultivation gay rights motion in the 1970s, including a high-profile lawsuit filed by technological Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, that was discharged native the U.S. Air force after admitting that was happy in 1975. In 1981, the department of Defense reaffirmed the ban, and also during the 1980s the army branches discharged close to 17,000 men and women under the homosexual category.

'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell': The Policy

During his 1992 presidential campaign, bill Clinton announced his intentionally to finish the half on homosexuals in the armed forces if elected. Gay rights supporters rejoiced, however the brand-new president’s efforts met through stiff bipartisan the opposite in Congress. Together reported in the Atlantic, documents released through the Clinton Library in 2014 about the debate included handwritten notes saying that Colin Powell, climate chairman of the share Chiefs that Staff, suggested strongly for maintaining the ban in place. However over the course of the debate, the note revealed, Powell argued that a “possible solution” can be the “we avoid asking.”

On July 19, 1993, Clinton announced the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy, which allowed gay american to offer in the army as lengthy as they continued to be closeted. The policy, anchored in a commonwealth statute passed by conference the same year, went into impact in February 1994.