Increase in Women and Minorities Discharged Due to “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”

According to a new study released by the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the UCLA School of Law Friday, the proportion of women and minorities discharged from the United States military as a result of its so-called “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy has increased since 1997. The study (see PDF) examines the demographics of the 13,500 troops who have been discharged under DADT through 2009. Findings include that the percentage of women discharged increased from 22 percent in 1997 to 39 percent in 2009. Women constituted a stable 14 to 15 percent of the military throughout this time period. Racial and ethnic minorities were approximately one third of DADT discharges in 2009, compared to about a quarter of similar discharges in the late 1990s. A 2009 study by the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, had similar findings and determined that a disproportionate number of women were discharged from the military under DADT in 2008. The study also notes that DADT has cost the military up to $500 million since its creation in 1993. Currently, about 71,000 lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans are serving in the US military. Instituted by former President Bill Clinton in 1993, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” prohibits the military from inquiring about a service member’s sexual orientation, but also calls for the discharge of anyone who acknowledges being gay. The policy has led to the expulsion of about 13,000 troops. In September, US District Court Judge Virginia Phillips ruled that DADT is unconstitutional on the basis that it violates both the first and fifth amendment rights of lesbian and gay service members. The Pentagon is currently undertaking a survey of service members to examine the potential impact of the repeal. Results of the survey will be presented to President Obama in December, as part of a final report and implementation plan. In May, the House of Representatives voted to add an amendment to a defense spending bill that would repeal the policy after the survey is completed. A vote on this bill is anticipated as early as this week.


Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy Press Release 9/17/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 10/9/09, 9/10/10

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