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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Still Affects Service Members

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a non-profit organization dedicated to ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), issued a statement on Wednesday warning gays and lesbians in the military to continue to respect DADT as the law, despite the fact that Congress is reportedly working on legislation that would repeal the policy. DADT was instituted by former President Bill Clinton in 1993 . It prohibits the military from inquiring about a service member’s sexual orientation and calls for the discharge of anyone who acknowledges being lesbian or gay. In the statement, SLDN reminded service members that if and when DADT is repealed, new legislation will not go into effect immediately, and that they currently remain vulnerable to being discharged. On May 27, 2010, the House of Representatives voted 234 to 194 to add an amendment to a defense spending bill that would repeal DADT. The Senate Armed Services Committee later approved a comparable amendment in a 16-12 closed session. Before the House vote, the sponsors of the amendment and the White House reached a deal that alters the amendment to require completion of a military review of the policy before a repeal can be enacted. The compromise provision requires that repeal will not go into effect until after the Pentagon completes its review of the policy, which is due to Congress by December 1 of this year. According to the Denver Post, Citizens for Repeal, a group that is working to end DADT, has criticized the review for its lack of input from gay and lesbian soldiers. In March 2010 the Pentagon announced that it will relax enforcement of DADT until Congress acts to repeal the policy. The military no longer investigates service members’ sexual orientation based on anonymous tips, is reducing third party testimony, and now requires high-level review of all expulsions based on sexual orientation. However, according to the SLDN Blog, 66,000 gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members can still be discharged under DADT, even if outed by third parties.

Sources:

Feminist Daily Newswire 5/28/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 3/25/10; Denver Post 6/9/10; Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Press Release 6/9/10; Servicemembers Legal Defense Network 5/26/10; New York Times 5/27/10

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