This week last year, Congress voted for and President Barack Obama signed into law a bill that repealed the military’s ban on openly gay service members, otherwise known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” or DADT.* Our country’s military leaders, policymakers, and scores of repeal advocates have worked tirelessly over the past year to make open service a reality in our armed forces, which finally went into effect this past September.
With DADT’s demise, our country will no longer squander hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars enforcing an unpopular policy that weakened our military readiness and our national security by asking gay service members to live a lie. Gay men and women in all branches of the military are finally able to serve their country openly, honestly, and with integrity after years of serving in silence.
Our military leaders—including President Obama, Secretaries of Defense Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen—are to be commended for their leadership throughout the repeal process. Members of Congress from both political parties should also be commended for passing the DADT repeal law last December.
But even with this success, work remains to be done. Gay service members and their families are not afforded the same benefits, protections, and security as other service members under current laws and regulations. Still, conservatives continue to play politics with our national security by working to pass antigay laws that would hurt service members, their families, and our armed forces. Going forward, policymakers should take action to level the playing field for gay service members in a post-DADT military.
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