Center for American Progress

Working Together to Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Working Together to Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Congress, the White House, and the Pentagon should begin working together now to make this happen.

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Clearly, allowing openly gay men and women to serve immediately and effectively in our armed forces will require only minimal changes to existing regulations and policies. We base this assertion on the experiences of our closest allies as well as close analysis of existing U.S. law, Defense Department directives, service-specific regulations, and the policies of other federal agencies.

In many ways, opponents of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” have the same mindset as those who opposed opening opportunities to women in the military in the 1970s. Rather than confronting the issue directly, they attempted to discourage women from remaining in the military by denying housing and medical benefits to their husbands—a policy that was outlawed by the Supreme Court in 1973. Similarly, by leaving in place a discriminatory law, proponents of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” hope to keep homosexuals from serving their country.

Over the last 17 years, the U.S. military has undermined its effectiveness and trampled on the civil rights of thousands of brave Americans in order to enforce the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Our British, Canadian, and Israeli colleagues have fought and died to protect their security and ours while allowing gays to serve openly and without making major changes to their existing regulations. The United States can and should take the same path and quickly overturn this discriminatory and unnecessary law and not allow a lengthy and unnecessary review to delay the process.

Congress, the White House, and the Pentagon should begin working together now to make this happen. Eventually, the Department of Defense might find it necessary to seek some statutory changes to existing laws to provide full benefits to same-sex couples. But that situation does not need to hold up the quick repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

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