Center for American Progress

End the Military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy
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End the Military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy

With U.S. military and public opinion now firmly in opposition to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” it is time to put an end to this outdated, discriminatory policy—before it imposes further costs on our budget and our national security.

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As the U.S. military’s ground services strive to recruit a sufficient number of troops, the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy continues to undermine their efforts to attract qualified men and women. Moreover, since its enactment, this outmoded law has cost the country hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of service men and women who were working to keep our country safe.

Since 1994, the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy has resulted in the discharge of more than 13,000 military personnel across the services including approximately 800 with skills deemed “mission critical,” such as pilots, combat engineers, and linguists. These are the very specialties for which the military has faced personnel shortfalls in recent years.
 
Even putting aside the human and financial costs of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the policy is no longer supported within the military nor in civilian society. A December 2006 Zogby International poll found that 73 percent of military personnel said that they were comfortable interacting with gay people. More importantly, of those who responded to the question, “Do you agree or disagree with allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military,” roughly 63 percent of respondents either agreed or were neutral.

A recent ABC/Washington Post opinion poll found increasing civilian acceptance of gays serving in the military. Seventy-five percent of Americans in the poll said gay people who are open about their sexual orientation should be allowed to serve in the military, up from 62 percent in early 2001 and 44 percent in 1993.

With U.S. military and public opinion now firmly in opposition to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” it is time to put an end to this outdated, discriminatory policy—before it imposes further costs on our budget and our national security.

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