The Freedoms to Serve and Work

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The mid-1990s were a dark time for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, Americans.

In 1993, Congress passed the so-called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, a law that mandated that gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members keep their sexual orientation
a secret or face discharge from the military. In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, defining marriage as between one man and one woman for the purposes of the federal government and federal benefits. That same day, Congress failed—by a single vote—to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which would have prevented employers from discriminating against workers and job applicants on the basis of sexual orientation.

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