Center for American Progress

Congressional Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and Changing the Uniformed Code of Military Justice
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Congressional Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and Changing the Uniformed Code of Military Justice

Legislative action is required to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell permanently.

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As noted earlier, legislative action is required to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell permanently. In fact, such a bill, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, already exists. It was first introduced in the 109th Congress and has since been reintroduced by the 110th and 111th Congress. The bill had 147 cosponsors as of June 17, 2009. The law as currently written prohibits the secretary of defense from discriminating against any member of the Armed Forces or any person seeking to become a member on the basis of sexual orientation and authorizes “the re-accession into the Armed Forces of otherwise qualified individuals previously separated for “homosexuality, bisexuality, or homosexual conduct.” The new law should ultimately establish a uniform code of conduct across the military for all service members, gay and straight, without regard to sexual orientation.

The Uniformed Code of Military Justice will also have to be updated. DADT separations are typically carried out through administrative separation hearings, rather than criminal trials governed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. But the UCMJ does criminalize sodomy, and Article 125 of the code mandates a court martial for any person found guilty of the crime. The Palm Center suggests replacing this article with “a ban in the Manual for Courts-Martial on all sexual acts that are prejudicial to good order and discipline.”65 The UCMJ is a law passed by Congress, and as such, this change can be made by standard legislative procedures, ideally at the same time that DADT is repealed.

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