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Religious Tolerance logo

Gays in the U.S. Military - DADT policy

Modifying or repealing the "Don't ask,
don't tell" policy: 2010-SEP-16 to NOV-30

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Continued from a previous file

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2010-SEP-16 Senate vote scheduled:

According to an Email from Joe Solmonese of the gay-positive Human Rights Campaign on 2010-SEP-16, a vote was scheduled in the Senate to abolish the DADT policy during the week of 2010-SEP-19. 1 According to an Email from Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairperson of the Traditional Values Coalition -- a fundamentalist Christian advocacy group -- the vote was to be held as early as Tuesday, SEP-21. 2

The bill was added as an amendment to a Defense Reuthorization Bill that is necessary to fund the military. Another controversial amendment was also attached to the Reauthorization Bill to give servicewomen the same access to abortion in military hospitals as is guaranteed other American women outside the military.

With the extremely high public support for an ending of DADT, and the absolute necessity of passing the Reuthorization Bill, this should have been an easy bill to pass. However, even though most Republicans support an end to DADT, the Republican party leaders decided to oppose the repeal.

Rev. Louis P. Sheldon refers to the bill as:

"... the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) agenda against our Armed Forces. ... I am writing to you today to help us fight this latest assault against the U.S. military. Our lobbyists in Washington, D.C. have been working relentlessly to brief Senators and House Members on the dangers of homosexualizing the military." 2

Solmonese claims that:

"The right wing is making hysterical claims that allowing lesbians and gays to serve openly in the military will increase sexual assault and 'undermine the religious liberties' of military chaplains. They are mobilizing their activists and putting intense pressure on senators." 1

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2010-SEP-21: Senate repeal of DADT blocked:

Sixty votes were required to end the filibuster against the bill to repeal DADT. However, only 56 senators voted in favor and 43 voted against terminating the filibuster of the bill this afternoon. In a tactical move, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-NC), changed his vote to "no." This would allow him to bring up the measure later.

This was seen by some commentators as the last opportunity for the repeal, as Republicans were expected to increase their representation in both the House and Senate on Election Day in early 2010-NOV. 3

In response to the vote:

  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said: "I've never seen such a cynical use of the needs of the men and women of the military. ... [It was] a cynical act for political reasons as the election nears to try to salvage what appears to be a losing campaign." 4

  • A statement issued by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), said that that the Justice Department should let the federal district court decision of 2010-SEP-09 stand instead of filing an appeal. That decision declared the DADT policy unconstitutional because the court found that it violates the 1st and 5th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. HRC president, Joe Solmonese, said:

    "We still have a fighting chance to repeal DADT through congressional action, but in the meantime, the best interests of our men and women in uniform -- as well as the country -- are served by doing everything we can do to get rid of this discriminatory law." 4

  • Robert Volk, an expert of gay and lesbian issues and a professor at Boston University, was interviewed by the Washington Bureau of the Toronto Star -- a Canadian newspaper. He said:

    "This is sadly significant. And the saddest thing -- this is not how majority rule is supposed to work. Most Americans don't believe in the policy anymore, and most major military leaders have come around and recognized it is time to change it. What was needed was courage in the Senate -- and it just wasn't there. ... But there is no comfort in the military changing its mind if the law doesn't actually change. ... It must be hard for people in Canada to get this, considering how long ago this ceased to be a issue there. It might seem like hatred and base instincts are on the rise. But in the long run, those seeking to perpetuate discrimination are fighting a losing battle. Most Americans don't care about this issue very much. Sooner or later, the ban will be over." 5

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2010-NOV-30: More leaks; Reaction ramping up before release of the DADT study:

The report on the military's ten month study was scheduled to be released on DEC-01. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, planned to discuss the findings with Congress that morning and with reporters later that afternoon. According to the Huffington Post, the report concludes that 70% of respondents predicted that lifting the ban would have a positive, mixed or no impact on the military. However, only about 20% of service members actually responded to the poll. If one were to assume that the 80% of service members who did not reply don't really care one way or the other, then less than 6% of service members are concerned about lifting of the ban.

When interviewed by CNN's "State of the Union" program on NOV-28, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) criticized President Obama's support for the ending of DADT. McCain said:

"“I understand your point of view, and I understand the point of view by the majority of the media, but the fact is, this was a political promise made by an inexperienced president or candidate for presidency of the United States. The military is at its highest point in recruitment and retention and professionalism and capability, so to somehow allege that this policy has been damaging the military is simply false." 6

On the other hand, if recruitment and retention are high, then it might be argued that this is the best time to eliminate discrimination in the military, just in case there is any negative effect resulting from the repeal.

A gay Air Force officer and co-founder of the LGBT advocacy group OutServe, uses the pseudonym "J.D. Smith." Commenting on the results of the study, he said:

"It's what we expected. The atmosphere in the active-duty has changed." 7

The Pew Research Center reported that support for the repeal of the DADT policy has over a 2:1 support among the American people (58% in favor of repeal; 27% opposed, 15% don't know or didn't answer.) A majority of men, women, Democrats,and Independents all support repeal. Among Republicans, 40% favor repeal; 44% are opposed, and 16% don't know or didn't answer. 8

A Quinnipiac University Poll also found that 58% of both all Americans and respondents with a member of the military in their family, support an end to DADT. 9

However, the Huffington Post reported that:

"... among those who said they 'agree with the Tea Party' only 38% favor and 48% oppose allowing open service. Similarly, only 34% of white evangelical Protestants favor and 48% oppose allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly. ... a recent McClatchy Company poll by Marist College found that registered voters were divided on repealing the policy during the current Congress, with 47% saying the current Democratic Congress should repeal the policy and 48% saying they should not repeal it 'so they continue to serve but not openly.' Another recent poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal found that 50% of adults supported allowing open service but 48% either supported continuing the current policy or not permitting service at all when explicitly offered those options. 8

Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness commented:

"If you take a microscope to that report, you will not find one word about how repealing the law would benefit the military -- not one word -- because there is no benefit to the Armed Forces. This is a political promise made by the president to LGBT activist groups. 10

However, U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips in Southern California who ruled in 2010-SEP-09 that the DADT policy is unconstitutional, concluded from the evidence submitted at trial that:

"Taken as a whole, the evidence introduced at trial shows that the effect of the [DADT] Act has been, not to advance the Government's interests of military readiness and unit cohesion, much less to do so significantly, but to harm that interest. The testimony demonstrated that since its enactment in 1993, the Act has harmed efforts of the all-volunteer military to recruit during wartime. The Act has caused the discharge of servicemembers in occupations identified as "critical" by the military, including medical professionals and Arabic, Korean, and Farsi linguists. At the same time that the Act has caused the discharge of over 13,000 members of the military, including hundreds in critical occupations, the shortage of troops has caused the military to permit enlistment of those who earlier would have been denied entry because of their criminal records, their lack of education, or their lack of physical fitness. 11

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The story continues.....

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Joe Solmonese, "DADT vote next week - victory is NOT certain," mass Emailing, 2010-SEP-16.
  2. L. P. Sheldon, "Harry Reid Pushes Anti-Military, Pro-Gay Bill Next Week!," mass Emailing, Traditional Values Coalition, 2010-SEP-16.
  3. " 'Don't ask, don't tell' repeal stalls as US Senate Republicans block bill'," Guardian (UK), 2010-SEP-21, at:
  4. Ted Barrett & Dana Bash, "Senate halts 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal," CNN, 2010-SEP-21, at:
  5. Mitch Potter, " 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', survives vote," Toronto Star, 2010-SEP-22, Page A8.
  6. Carlos Santoscoy, "John McCain, Lindsey Graham Say DADT Repeal Is An Obama Promise," On Top Magazine, 2010-NOV-29, at:
  7. Anne Flaterty, "DADT Study: Pentagon Report Says Gays Could Serve In Military With No Harm." Huffington Post, 2010-NOV-30, at:
  8. Emily Swanson, "Most support DADT repeal, but Tea Party opposed," Huffington Post, 2010-NOV-29, at:
  9. Ed O'Keefe, "Democrats confident in repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' policy," Washington Post, 2010-NOV-19, at:
  10. CNN newscast, 2010-NOV-30, at about 6:40 ET.
  11. Virginia Phillips, "Text of ruling: Case No. CV 04-08425-VAP (Ex)," Page 64,65. Filed 2010-SEP-09, at: This is a PDF file.

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Copyright © 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2010-MAY-25
Latest update: 2010-DEC-18
Author: B.A. Robinson

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