September 20 2012
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
Today, September 20, is the first anniversary of the repeal of the law commonly known as "Don't ask, Don't tell (DADT)," which prevented gay men, bisexuals, and lesbians from openly serving in the Armed Forces of the United States. Repeal of DADT meant that military accessions, promotions, separations, and assignments would be made without regard to sexual orientation. As we mark this historic change, it seems appropriate to remember how it took place and assess what has transpired over the past year.
The first attempt to allow gays to serve openly in the military came in January 1993, during the early days of the Clinton Administration. The attempt and the political and social context in which it occurred are documented in the 1993 RAND report, Sexual Orientation and U.S. Military Personnel Policy: Options and Assessment. RAND's research concluded that sexual orientation, by itself, was not germane to determining who may serve in the military, and that clear standards of conduct strictly enforced for all military personnel should be sufficient to allow gay men and lesbians to serve. Yet the Defense Department, the Congress and, one can argue, the American people, were not ready to accept such a conclusion. What resulted was the compromise policy of DADT.