President Obama announced that the US ban on gays serving openly in the military will be lifted on September 20, bringing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy to an end. The President met with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen to certify that the armed forces are ready for the change.
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell forces gay and bisexual service people to keep their sexual orientation a secret or face possible expulsion from the military. More than 14,000 men and women have been discharged in the policy’s 17-year history, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi applauded the move. “When the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is complete, we will send a clear message to every American: anyone with the courage to wear our nation’s uniform will be judged not by whom they love, but by their skill, ability, and love of country,” said Pelosi in a written statement.
DADT was instituted by former President Bill Clinton in 1993 and prohibits the military from inquiring about a service member’s sexual orientation, and also calls for the discharge of anyone who acknowledges being lesbian or gay. Thus far, the policy has led to the expulsion of more than 13,000 troops.