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What DADT Cost Us

Misguided Policy Wasted Taxpayer Dollars, Military Talent

SOURCE: AP/Maya Alleruzzo

Army troops search a Saddam Hussein-era military vehicle graveyard outside Contingency Operating Site Taji, north of Baghdad, Iraq, on August 7, 2011. Seventy-three percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who recently returned from combat are personally comfortable with gays and lesbians.

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Today the military’s ban on openly gay and lesbian troops, informally known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” or DADT, finally comes to an end. Gay men and women in all branches of the military can now serve their country openly, honorably, and with integrity.

Last December, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed into law the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010, which formally put repeal into motion. Over the past year, our military’s senior leaders have designed and overseen a successful DADT implementation plan, which included training and preparing the 2.2 million troops in the armed forces for open service. President Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen certified on July 22, 2011, that after months of training, the military was ready for open service. In accordance with legislative repeal, DADT has now finally come to an end today, 60 days following our military leaders’ certification.

Now that DADT is no longer the law of the land, we will no longer discharge otherwise qualified troops from the armed forces simply because they are gay. We will no longer waste hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars enforcing a policy that strong majorities of Americans from all political ideologies oppose. And we will no longer compromise our troops’ honor by asking them to serve in silence or lie about who they are.

When DADT was law of the land, however, this failed policy weakened our fiscal health, our national security, and our service members’ integrity. Below are some of the numbers behind this outdated, ineffective, and now-defunct policy:

  • 14,346—The number of otherwise qualified service members that were discharged under DADT since Congress passed the DADT law in 1993.
  • 800—The approximate number of personnel kicked out of the armed forces under DADT who were deemed to have “mission crucial” skills, such as pilots, combat engineers, and Arab linguists.
  • 35—The number of countries that permit gay men and women to serve openly and honestly in their armed forces, including close U.S. allies such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and Israel.
  • $363.8 million—The cost of discharging and replacing service members fired under DADT during the policy’s first 10 years, costing nearly $40,000 per discharged service member.
  • 4,000—The estimated number of gay men and women that refused to re-enlist each year in the armed forces due to the DADT policy.
  • 73—The percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who recently returned from combat who are personally comfortable around gays and lesbians, including 38 percent who are very comfortable.
  • 75—The percent of Americans who support openly gay people serving in the U.S. military, including 82 percent of Democrats, 77 percent of independents, and 64 percent of Republicans.
  • 92—Of those troops who know someone in their unit that is gay or lesbian, 92 percent believe their unit’s ability to work together is either very good, good, or neither good nor poor.
  • 0—The number of reputable or peer-reviewed studies that have shown that allowing service by openly gay personnel compromises military cohesion or effectiveness.

Crosby Burns is the Special Assistant for LGBT Progress.

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