Home > Free Essays > Politics & Government > Military > “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” (DADT)
Cite this

“Don’t ask, Don’t tell” (DADT) Term Paper


The policy also known as the disambiguation policy had been the official policy in the United States military since 21st December 1993 until the 20th of September 2011. The policy banned open gays and lesbians personnel from working in the military, and proscribed against discrimination of the closeted gays and lesbians. The policy was in the Pub.L. 103-160 (10 U.S.C. § 654) of the federal law.

The basis of the policy was on the qualities that a military officer should have in order to be seen as a committed officer. The military believe in morale discipline and working as a family unit.

Therefore, the presence of homosexuals or bisexuals in the military would not be in respect to the values set by the army. The homosexuals and bisexuals who were in the military did not talk about their sexual preferences, (Cochran, Mayer, Carr, Cayer, Mckenzie, 2011).

The policy was in two parts, the first part being the ‘don’t ask’ where the senior officers did not have a right of starting any investigation in the military. The only exception to this clause was when the superiors had a reason to do so like when they see an officer engaging in unbecoming behaviors.

The officers did not have the right to mistreat the suspected bisexual or homosexual officers, or undertake any investigation without the consent of the authorities. Most of the officers; who had confessed or who had come out to the open and made their sexuality known, lost their jobs after the policy got implemented.

The bill has been functioning for the past eighteen years however, things changed after the president, the secretary of defense and the head of the joint chiefs’ staff signed the bill on July 2011. The policy ended officially on September the 20th of 2011.

History of the ‘don’t ask and don’t tell’ policy

The United States military has long since been keen on the sexual preference of its officers. This was evident in the past wars and revolution that have taken place in the country. The first case of discharge of officers from the army due to their sexual preference was in 1778. Lieutenant Gotthold Frederick Enslin was accused of committing sodomy to a fellow officer.

He had to leave the army at once because the policies of the military do not allow such acts. Officers were discharged from their duties due to homosexuality and bisexuality during the Second World War. Before the United joined the world war two, there was screening process that aimed at testing the psychiatric condition of officers.

The military officers who were homosexuals or bisexuals got murdered through court martial’s or discharged from their duties. The emergence of psychopathy in the military helped ease the punishment because the officers were preparing for war and had no time to call for court martial, (Johnson, 2011).

The blue discharge became common during this time of war. In 1944, homosexuals and bisexuals got admitted in psychiatric centers’ where they were under close surveillance. This was because the psychopathology, termed them as psychiatric cases. The officers were later sent home and the law that permitted the act was the 615-360, section 8.

The blue discharge continued for three years and the “general”, and “undesirable” replaced it in 1947. The new system discharged the officers who were guilty of committing sexual acts while on duty. The discharge was exceedingly dishonorable, for the officers found engaging in homosexuality acts.

However, those who were homosexuals, but not found guilty of engaging themselves in sexual acts while in service were also discharged. The Crittenden Report of 1957 dismissed the claims that homosexuality and bisexuality were a source of risk to the other members of the military. The report was from a study from the navy officers.

The gave suggestions on how to reduce cases of homosexuality as it termed it as an evil act that the officers had to learn to avoid. However, the military did not make the report public until 1976. The United States Military had to be discrete with the report in order to avoid wrangles among members. The homosexual officers filed for a petition in court to demand a refund of the salary he did not collect during the discharge period.

During the years between 1970 and 1980, there were a lot of movements that came up to seek for recognition of gays and lesbians especially those who were serving in the military, ( Uradnik, 2011). The movements went public by publishing in the news papers the names of the individuals in the military who had been victims of the unfair dismissals in the past.

In 1982, the defense department formulated a policy that claimed that homosexuality and bisexuality were not compatible with the policies of the essence in the military.

The movement and the public did not accept the move by the department of defense, and this made the policy a matter of debate both socially and politically. The 1992 election campaigns focused on this matter a lot and President Bill Clinton who won the presidential elections were willing to repeal the policy.

However, he was not successful because the congress people enacted the ban policy on gays and lesbians before he could make any plans to repeal it. The ‘don’t ask ‘and ‘don’t tell policy’ was a compromise policy from President Bill Clinton the military and the public. This is because he made promises during his campaigns that he would repeal the policies that banned homosexuals and bisexuals from the military.

This was not easy though as the congress made if difficult by include the act in the federal law. The act stated that all the members of the United States military had to follow the regulation of the military that were similar the regulation of the 1982 bill.

However, Clinton managed to issue a Defense Directive 1304.26 that stated that all the members of the military service in the country were not to answer any question regarding their sexual preferences. The policy directed that all the military officers should not disclose their sexual preference to others in the military. This is where the ‘don’t ask’ and ‘’don’t tell’ name originated as per Charles Moskos, (Johnson, 2011).

However, most of the people and military officers were not happy with the move. They claimed that homosexuals and bisexuals were disrespectful and licentious. They made the other officers uncomfortable as they are always prying on their privacy.

The policy was a relief for the gay’s lesbians and the bisexuals because it meant that they could serve in the military with no questions asked about their sexual orientation.

However, there were restrictions to the policy which included the clause that demanded that the homosexuals and bisexuals should not engage in any sexual acts, in the military. The policy protected the officers from harassment and unfair dismissals from the military. The ‘don’t harass’ part was the one responsible for this feature.

In 1993, a study in the military was underway to see if there were other ways of lifting the ban on in the military service. The National Defense Research Institute was in charge of this study. They were looking for alternatives on how to handle the issue of lesbians and gays in the military.

The report made by the team showed that there were alternatives that could help ease the tension in the military. The report recommended that the process of recruitment into the military and reenlistment should be done discretely by avoiding invading the private lives of the officers.

In 1999, a FORSCOM Regulation (500-3-3 RC) used to deploy army troops and reservist. The act did not allow the lesbians and gays to join the others deployed to go to war or to some parts of the country. The act prevented pretence by other members of the military when they wanted to avoid going to wars, ( Uradnik, 2011).

There have been cases in court demanding a repeal of the ‘don’t ask’ and ‘don’t tell’ policy. Different gay and lesbian movements have been going to court to challenge the policy. The federal courts have never changed their view on the subject and have so far sustained four cases that were after the repealing of the DADT policy.

One of the leading cases filed by the gay association was the Log Cabin Republicans, versus the United States Military. The Log Cabin Republicans is the largest homosexual and bisexual movement in in the country. The case was in court, in 2004, and it has been ongoing since then. The Log Cabin Republicans claimed that the ‘don’t ask’ and do not tell’ policy was violating the rights of the gay and lesbian officers.

They claimed that the officers had no freedom of expression because of fear of losing the job. This was because the policy stated that the person should not talk about his or her sexual preferences while serving in the military, (Merritt, 2011). The plaintiffs also accused the policy of depriving the gay and lesbian military personnel the right and freedom of association with other members of the military.

The Republican Gay Organization used quotes; from the current president Barrack Obama where he says, that the ‘don’t’ tell’ and ‘Don’t ask’ policy is hindering the development security in the country.

The statement is the opposite of the policy which claim that the gay and lesbians contribute to the decrease in security level, in the country. Judge Virginia A. Phillips started the hearings in 2010 and, on 9th September, she made a ruling in favor of the Republican gay organization. She termed the policy violation of right of officers, and she quoted the First and Fifth Amendments had been violated during the amendment.

The Judge called for an injunction of the use of the DADT policy in any procedures or duties that use the policy. Gay and lesbian recruits applied for jobs in the military using the open application where they declared their sexual orientation, ( Cochran, Mayer, Carr, Cayer, Mckenzie, 2011).

The injunction got further certification from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The officers were no longer dismissed from their work even if they spoke about their orientation publically. The Military Readiness Enhancement Act was in the House of Representatives in 2005.

The bill aimed at swapping the ‘don’t ask’ and ‘don’t tell’ policy, with a policy that was not discriminative in nature and one that accepted the sexual orientation of the officers. The bill was in the house again in 2007 and 2009, and its aim was to make sure that the armed forces were ready to implement new policies that were no discriminative.

The present situation of the DADT policy

The repeal was finally complete in September 2011. For the bill to be passed it had to get a signature from the president, the secretary of the department of defense and the head of the join chiefs’ staff. The repeal aims at making the military a place where there is effectiveness, cohesion, and readiness in its operations. There are many issues that the repeal has to deal with before the policy can be effective.

There are many clauses in the United States Status codes that guide the military uniform. The section of the law that focuses on the repeal changes is section 654. The clause states that an officer neither should nor participate in any sexual activities while in service.

This conflicts with the clause in section 925 that prohibits sodomy in the military. This means that there is a lot of clarity required to make sure that the officers do not face legal charges or dismissals using this clause (Burrelli, 2011).

The repeal implementation process will entail a three months training that will focus on training the officers in the three main levels of the military ranks. The three levels are the commanding officers, the supervisors and the recruiting officers. The military officers are undergoing training in answering questions that concern the new policy.

The other training involves the implementation of the new policy and integrating it into the system. The officers get lessons on how to detect an uneasy feeling in the officers.

The last bit of the training process is where all the military officers stay in the same place, and trained on the basic changes that come out as a result of the policy, (Merritt, 2011). The department of defense claims that it will not compensate any of the members who lost their jobs due to the unfair dismissals using the DADT policy.


The discrimination against people with different sexual orientation has been in existence for a long time. The cases of sodomy in the revolutionary were, and the discharge of the officers found guilty of such acts is to prove that the issue has been there for long. Many acts have been affected to separate people homosexuals and bisexuals from other people.

The DADT act aimed at improving the working conditions of the officers and making sure that their jobs were secure. However, it did not liberate the homosexuals from discrimination at work. This is the reason why gay associations have been fighting for the repeal of the 1993 policy. Gay rights group have been advocating for more freedoms


Burrelli, D. (2011). “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: The Law and Military Policy on Same-Sex Behavior. Carolina: DIANE Publishing.

Cochran, C., Mayer, L., Carr, T., Cayer, N., Mckenzie, M. (2011). American Public Policy: An Introduction. New York: Cengage Learning.

Johnson, C. (2011). Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of Don’t Ask. Carolina: DIANE Publishing.

Merritt, D. (2011). Military Personnel: Personnel and Cost Data Associated with Implementing DoD’s Homosexual Conduct Policy. Carolina: DIANE Publishing.

Uradnik, K. (2011). Battleground: Government and Politics. New York: ABC-CLIO.

This term paper on “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” (DADT) was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

Need a custom Term Paper sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar

301 certified writers online

Cite This paper

Select a website referencing style:


IvyPanda. (2019, December 19). "Don't ask, Don’t tell" (DADT). Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/dont-ask-dont-tell-dadt/

Work Cited

""Don't ask, Don’t tell" (DADT)." IvyPanda, 19 Dec. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/dont-ask-dont-tell-dadt/.

1. IvyPanda. ""Don't ask, Don’t tell" (DADT)." December 19, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/dont-ask-dont-tell-dadt/.


IvyPanda. ""Don't ask, Don’t tell" (DADT)." December 19, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/dont-ask-dont-tell-dadt/.


IvyPanda. 2019. ""Don't ask, Don’t tell" (DADT)." December 19, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/dont-ask-dont-tell-dadt/.


IvyPanda. (2019) '"Don't ask, Don’t tell" (DADT)'. 19 December.

Related papers