Today marks the one-year anniversary of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, allowing all LGBT service men and women to serve openly in our nation’s military. Initially signed into law in 1993 to prohibit discrimination or harassing of closeted enlisted men and women, it also disallowed them to serve openly. Since then, DADT was used to discharge over 13,000 men and women based on their sexual orientation from 1994 until its repeal a year ago. What was the reasoning for those who fought the repeal? They believed gays openly serving in the military “would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability”. This fight has its roots set firmly in our nation’s history, from the onset of WWII when psychiatric screening were added to the military’s induction process distinguishing the recruits as “homosexual” or “normal” which led to homosexuals being committed to military hospitals, examined by psychiatrists and discharged (remember that homosexuality was considered a disorder by the American Psychiatric Association until 1973).
Since then, many courageous men and women have fought to serve their country openly and honestly. Fannie Mae Clackum, discharged in 1952 after being accused of being a lesbian, was the first service member to successfully appeal this decision in 1960. Today, OutServe, a network of LGBT actively-serving military personnel, continues to advocate for the health and protection of all service members. PRIDE Institute is proud to be an official sponsor of this organization.
And now that DADT has reached this one-year milestone, we can see the affect on the “high standards” of our military. A recent report by a group of U.S. military school professors writing for the Palm Center found, “The repeal of DADT has had no overall negative impact on military readiness or its component dimensions, including cohesion, recruitment, retention, assaults, harassment or morale.” The U.S. military today has the same level of readiness as it did in 2011. It doesn’t end there as a victory, there is more work to be done and the PRIDE Institute will continue to work toward the health of our nation’s LGBT population.