Minorities Constitute Nearly Half of Discharges under 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
New Data Contradict Claims that Policy is “Working”
WASHINGTON, DC – Servicemembers United, the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans and their straight allies, today released new data showing that racial and ethnic minorities constituted an unusually large percentage of discharges under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) law in Fiscal Year (FY) 2008. These new data were obtained by Servicemembers United directly from the Department of Defense (DOD) through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The DOD discharge data – which included the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy – revealed that out of 619 total DADT discharges in FY08 from these services, 279 (or just over 45%) were non-white. The Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, however, reported at the beginning of FY08 that 71% of the active duty force was white. The Coast Guard, which did not provide a breakdown of its data, reported discharging another 21 servicemembers under DADT in FY08, bringing the overall number of DADT discharges for all services in FY08 to 640.
“We have always known that the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law has a disproportionate impact on women and minorities in the military,” said Alexander Nicholson, a former U.S. Army interrogator and the executive director of Servicemembers United. “These new numbers, however, show that the problem is getting worse and that this policy has ultimately failed. Lawmakers have a responsibility to address this problem immediately, and the President should hasten the appointment of a new Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness who is qualified and willing to deal with this issue.”
Women in the military were also hit especially hard by the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law again in FY08. While women comprise approximately 15% of the armed forces, they made up more than a third (34%) of DOD discharges under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in FY08.
Although a much larger and more wide-ranging collection of data related to prior “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” discharges was requested and is known to be available and unclassified, the Department of Defense’s Freedom of Information Office has so far refused to release more than a small fraction of the requested information.
Servicemembers United, a non-profit and non-partisan organization, is the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans and their straight allies. Based in Washington, DC, Servicemembers United actively engages in education, advocacy, and lobbying on issues affecting the gay military, veteran, and defense community.