On September 20th, 2011 the nearly two-decade-old policy that prohibited gay, lesbian, and bisexual people from serving openly in the military is officially over. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, enacted on December 21, 1993, was the official United States policy that prohibited openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals from serving in the military. Approximately 13,000 members of the military were discharged under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. On July 22, 2011, President Barack Obama, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen notified Congress that the military was ready to end DADT.
The end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell signifies new beginnings of a government that recognizes that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is outdated and wrong. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members previously discharged under DADT now have the opportunity to re-enlist. The repeal of DADT provides a significant opportunity for those in the military to be themselves and come out. The brave men and women currently serving in the military now have the freedom to be honest about who they are and about who they love. The repeal of the policy also signifies a willingness of broader society to accept gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. The repeal of DADT will hopefully provide momentum to the equal rights movement for the LGBTQ community.