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STATEMENT: CAP Applauds Regulatory Changes to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Implementation

March 25, 2010

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Contact: Madeline Meth
Phone: 202.741.6277

By Rudy deLeon

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Center for American Progress strongly supports the Defense Department’s announcement today that it will modify the way it implements the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy as it continues to consider the best way to repeal the ban. DADT became law in 1994 and prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the United States military. The changes announced today will reduce—but not eliminate—the number of men and women discharged from military simply because of their sexual orientation.

The revised DADT regulations will:

  • Raise the officer rank required to initiate discharge proceedings under DADT
  • Raise the rank required for a person who conducts a DADT inquiry
  • Raise the officer rank required to authorize a servicemember’s separation under DADT
  • Revise what constitutes credible information to initiate a DADT investigation (for example, discouraging the use of hearsay or overhead statements)
  • Revise what constitutes a reliable person upon whose statements a DADT investigation can be launched (for example, disregarding a third party who may be motivated to harm the servicemember in question)
  • Allow service members to honestly discuss their sexual orientation in various settings, including on health records and security clearance applications, and with doctors, mental health therapists, lawyers, and clergy

As our country fights two wars, our military now more than ever needs to be judging its forces based on how well they perform their jobs—sexual orientation should be irrelevant. As two Center for American Progress studies (“Ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” and “Implementing the Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in the U.S. Armed Forces”) have shown, sexual orientation is irrelevant to military readiness. We hope that the Pentagon and Congress will work together to implement President Obama’s desire to repeal DADT this year.

The current Senate bill calling for DADT repeal actually requires the military to develop a clear implementation strategy. As the CAP studies haven shown, linking congressional repeal with Pentagon implementation makes strong strategic sense because it will ensure that the transition to open service will be smooth, orderly, and fully consistent with the rigors of military service and unit readiness.

The changes announced today are a critical first step forward in making sure every man and woman with the ability and willingness to serve is able to do so.

Today’s announced changes are constructive, but they are no substitute for full legislative repeal of DADT, which has kept tens of thousands of otherwise qualified men and women from serving our country, thus undermining military readiness.

Experts from the Center for American Progress are available to discuss these recent developments on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Rudy deLeon, Senior Vice President of National Security and International Policy, who was formerly a former deputy secretary of defense during the Clinton administration and has been involved in issuing regulations relating to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Winnie Stachelberg, Senior Vice President for External Affairs, who was formerly the political director of the Human Rights Campaign

Louis Caldera, Senior Fellow, who was formerly the United States secretary of the army during the Clinton administration

Myth vs. Fact: Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – Common Misconceptions Debunked

Download this memo (pdf)

Earlier this week, the Center for American Progress released a report, “Implementing the Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in the U.S. Armed Forces

Download the report (pdf)

Download the executive summary (pdf)

Download key recommendations and findings from the report (pdf)

CAP has also produced two “Ask the Expert” videos about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy:

English: Lawrence Korb, former assistant secretary of defense, and co-author with Sean Duggan and Laura Conley of “Implementing the Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in the U.S. Armed Forces” on repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Spanish: Louis Caldera discusses "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell"


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