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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by the Numbers

The Military Loses Patriotic Men and Women Every Day

SOURCE: AP/Josh Anderson

Soldiers wait to board a plane to Afghanistan from Fort Campbell Army Base.

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The House this week could take an important step forward in bringing equality to the military by passing an amendment that would repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” as part of the fiscal year 2011 Defense Authorization bill. DADT is the discriminatory policy that prevents gay and lesbian soldiers from serving openly in the military. The Senate Armed Services Committee is also considering a similar amendment.

Defense Secretary Gates called earlier this year for a Pentagon working group to begin drafting a plan for enacting a repeal to the ban, and that proposal is due to the secretary, Joint Chiefs, and president later this year. Congressional passage of repeal would ensure that all parts of government—legal and military—can move forward together once the Pentagon’s proposal is completed.

At a time when we are fighting two wars, what matters most on the battlefield is a person’s ability to complete the mission. It’s time for our country’s laws and our military’s policies to reflect this basic, common sense notion.

More than 13,000: The number of gay and lesbian service men and women have been discharged from military service since 1993. Thousands more have decided not to reenlist due to the policy.

infographic of DADT discharges

73 percent: The portion of service members who served in Afghanistan and Iraq that are comfortable in the presence of gay men and lesbians, according to a survey of 545. Only 5 percent of the approximately 20 percent who said that they were uncomfortable are “very uncomfortable,” while 15 percent are “somewhat uncomfortable.”

$1.3 billion: The estimated amount that banning gay service has cost the U.S. government since 1980.

0: Number of studies showing that repealing DADT would harm the military. According to research at the University of California, Santa Barabara, “No reputable or peer-reviewed study has ever shown that allowing service by openly gay personnel will compromise military effectiveness.”

24: The number of countries that allow gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military. None of these have reported “any determent to cohesion, readiness, recruiting, morale, retention or any other measure of effectiveness or quality,” according to the Palm Center, and “in the more than three decades since an overseas force first allowed gay men and lesbians to serve openly, no study has ever documented any detriment to cohesion, readiness, recruiting, morale, retention or any other measure of effectiveness or quality in foreign armed services.”

$10,000: The amount that discharging and replacing each service member cost the federal government according to a 2005 GAO study. And researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara found that the GAO’s methodology did not include several important factors and that the actual number was closer to $37,000 per service member.

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