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Religious Tolerance logo

The U.S. military's "Don't ask, Don't tell" (DADT) policy

After 2011-SEP-20: Various reactions
following the repeal of DADT: Part 1

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"LGB" is an acronym that refers to lesbians, gays and bisexuals.

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This is a continuation of the previous essay

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2011-SEP: Reactions after the repeal of the DADT policy:

  • A video by Associated Press:

    (Our apologies for site visitors outside of the U.S. who might not be permitted to view this video.)

  • U.S. Military starts accepting, but not processing, applications:

    During the week prior to the ending on DADT on SEP-20, the Pentagon said that 97% of service members have undergone training in the new policy. The military started to accept application from openly LGBT candidates before DADT ended. All pending investigations, discharges and other procedures that had been begun previously were stopped. However, they waited until the policy formally ended before reviewing and processing them. 2

  • Gay couple marries at the stroke of midnight on SEP-20:

    The DADT policy formally ended, at least temporarily, in the early morning of 2011-SEP-20 at 12:01 AM local time. Navy Lt. Gary Ross, 33, married his partner of 11 years, Dan Swezy, 49. They traveled from their home in Tucson, AZ to Vermont to be married there because that state is in the Eastern Time Zone. That way, they could recite their vows at the first possible moment after the ban was lifted. It was a double ring ceremony at Duxbury's Moose Meadow Lodge near Montpelier, VT. The ceremony started at 11:45 on SEP-19 local time. Greg Trulson, a Justice of the Peace, proclaimed the marriage at exactly 12:01 on SEP-20 as DADT ended. Trulson said: "This is Gary's official coming out."

Lt. Ross said that the DADT policy:

    "... requires you to lie several times a day. Being in the military is extremely invasive. It becomes a web of excuses you make when you try to be as honest as possible but you can't be honest. ... If you're standing watch at midnight on a surface ship there's not much to talk about. It becomes very difficult to trust someone you can't be honest with." 2

  • President Obama issued statement:

"Today, the discriminatory law known as 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is finally and formally repealed. As of today, patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love. As of today, our armed forces will no longer lose the extraordinary skills and combat experience of so many gay and lesbian service members. And today, as Commander in Chief, I want those who were discharged under this law to know that your country deeply values your service.

I was proud to sign the Repeal Act into law last December because I knew that it would enhance our national security, increase our military readiness, and bring us closer to the principles of equality and fairness that define us as Americans. Today's achievement is a tribute to all the patriots who fought and marched for change; to Members of Congress, from both parties, who voted for repeal; to our civilian and military leaders who ensured a smooth transition; and to the professionalism of our men and women in uniform who showed that they were ready to move forward together, as one team, to meet the missions we ask of them.

For more than two centuries, we have worked to extend America's promise to all our citizens. Our armed forces have been both a mirror and a catalyst of that progress, and our troops, including gays and lesbians, have given their lives to defend the freedoms and liberties that we cherish as Americans. Today, every American can be proud that we have taken another great step toward keeping our military the finest in the world and toward fulfilling our nation’s founding ideals." 3

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  • Southern Baptist Convention responds:

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), said the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy was a wrong and dangerous decision. His comments on the DADT repeal appeared on the ERLC web site:

" 'It is a sad day for our men and women in the armed services and for our country,' he said, warning that unless the policy or something similar is re-instituted unit morale will be seriously degraded. He predicted many men and women will leave the military because of the change in policy. ... The United States armed forces are not the place for social experimentation. The military exists to fight wars and to win wars and to defend our freedoms. Its ability to perform those functions will be lessened by this policy.'

Land also said he expected the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and free exercise of faith of military chaplains will be seriously curtailed or extinguished with the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

  • Senator Rick Santorum (R) seeking his party's presidential nomination in 2012:

During a nationally televised debate on 2011-SEP-22 from Orlando, FL, service member Steven Hill submitted a question via You Tube. He said that prior to the repeal of DADT, he "... had to lie about who I was," He asked whether the candidates, if elected to the presidency, would try to "circumvent the progress" that has been made in allowing LGBTs to serve openly. Although the audience had been wildly vocal during the debate, only a few person's booed. Presumably there were few who expressed their displeasure at LGBT service members openly serving out of respect for Hill's status as an active-duty soldier.

Fox News commentator Meg Kelly directed the question to only one of the nine candidates, Senator Rick Santorum. He has a strong track record for opposition to any form of equality for LGBT persons, couples and their children. He confirmed his frequently stated position that he would attempt to reinstate DADT if he became president. He said that:

  • There shouldn't be "any type of sexual activity" in the military."
  • The repeal of DADT amounts to "giving them a special privilege."
  • The repeal "tries to inject social policy into the military."
  • He would stop "playing social experiments with our military ... [and] reinstate the policy, period." 4

His  expectation that there be no sexual activity by service members would place a difficult burden on married soldiers and those in committed, sexually active relationships. He may not have realized that service members were expelled from the military for simply having a homosexual or bisexual orientation, even though they were sexually inactive. It was not clear what "special privilege" LGBT persons have that is not shared with heterosexuals in the military. Many civil libertarians interpret the new policy of allowing LGBT service members to be able to reveal their sexual orientation as another of the recent steps towards ending discrimination against sexual minorities, and not a "social experiment."

However, he did indicate that after DADT was reinstated, there would not be any witch hunt of LGBT service members who had gone public with their sexual orientation between the time that DADT was repealed and reinstated.

In short, Rick Santorum's answer simply raised a whole shopping list of new questions.

  • Activist for LGBT equality too busy to celebrate the end of DADT:

One of the major accomplishments of the DADT policy was the motivation it supplied to Army National Guard Lt. Dan Choi, 30. He is a decorated gay soldier who became one of the leading activists fighting for the equality of LGBTs in the military. He didn't have time to celebrate the end of DADT. According to Kevin Grant of Global Post, Choi is:

"... still busy fighting on two fronts against the federal government — one political and one legal.

'I’m not going to party. I have to get ready for court,' said Choi, an Iraq war veteran and Arabic-speaking linguist, sitting comfortably in his bright midtown Manhattan apartment, ringed with public service awards for activism and military service.

His case, the United States of America v. Daniel Choi, stems from a protest he led in front of the White House in November 2010. He and 12 other LGBT activists handcuffed themselves to the fence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to bring attention to the ... DADT repeal effort. Now Choi faces a possible six months in jail for disobeying an order to get off the fence.

“To have something that is your country versus you is not something you expect when you’re coming back from war,” Choi says, part of a government legacy he terms 'federal homophobia'. ..."

"Perhaps of greatest concern to Choi is that the repeal will appease the gay community enough that it will settle for less than full social and legal equality. 'DADT has become something of a manipulation,' Choi says. 'It’s clear that Obama has not fulfilled his promises to our community. DADT means for me that I can go back [and serve]. And it means that I can die for my country. But I still can’t get married in my country'." 1

"Bearthoven" posted a comment at the end of Grant's article, saying:

"As a proud gay Army veteran I applaud this day, but like Dan Choi, I think we, as a people, are a long way from equality. We are on the road and there is light at the end of the tunnel. In order to combat the ignorance and fear by those who do not know us we need to be more visible with our neighbors and in our community to dispel old myths, stereotypes, and fears. We may never win the hearts of those deeply entrenched in their religious traditions, but then again, America isn't home to one ideology, one race of people, one religion, or one ethnic background. We are a nation built of many and there is room at the table for all of us." 5

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This topic continues in the next essay

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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. "Obama Hails DADT Repeal: End Of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Means Gay Servicemembers 'No Longer Have To Lie'," Associated Press, 2011-SEP-20, at:
  2. Wilson Ring, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal: Navy Lt. Gary Ross, Partner Dan Swezy Wed As Military's Gay Ban Formally Ends," Associated Press, 2011-SEP-21, at:
  3. Mat Negrin, "End of a policy: Obama 'proud' of repealing gay ban," Politico 44, 2011-SEP-20, at:
  4. Lisa Keen, "DADT repeal booed during GOP debate," Keen News Service, 2011-SEP-22, at:
  5. Kevin Douglas Grant, "After Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Former Lt. Dan Choi Doubles Down On His Fight For Gay Equality," Huffington Post, 2011-SEP-20, at:

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Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality & Bisexuality > Challenges > DADT policy > here

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Copyright © 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2011-SEP-24
Latest update: 2011-OCT-03
Author: B.A. Robinson

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