Department of Defense data obtained by the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara shows that proportionately more women were discharged from the military under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in 2008 than men. Women account for only 15 percent of the military, yet in 2008 one-third of the over 619 troops discharged under the policy were women. Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith told the Associated Press in an interview that officials will not be probing into the issue because “if we did investigate, we would have to ask questions, and we aren’t supposed to ask any questions.”
The military is frequently criticized for discriminating against women. Anuradha Bhagwati, founder of the Service Women’s Action Network and a former Marine, told the Associated Press that when she enlisted “often times the lesbians under my command were under scrutiny by the same men who were also sexually harassing straight women, so it was this kind of sexist undercurrent of ‘you don’t belong here’.”
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. Thus far the policy has led to the expulsion of about 13,000 troops.