WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Center for American Progress has released a new report that outlines why implementing the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” can be accomplished quickly and would require few changes in military regulations and practices. CAP’s analysis found that most existing regulations are already neutral with respect to sexual orientation and therefore don’t need to be modified. Others will require minor changes through legislation or additional executive guidance.
The policy is discriminatory, has led to the discharge of thousands of qualified men and women, and has deterred untold others from serving and defending their country. Additionally, thousands more men and women in uniform voluntarily leave the service every year because of the law.
All reputable military, academic, and popular studies and polls show that the American people are ready for this costly, ineffective, and discriminatory policy to end. The military’s top uniformed and civilian leadership has signaled that it is in favor of repeal, too. Now is the time for Congress, the White House, and the Pentagon to improve military readiness by permitting gay and lesbian Americans the opportunity to serve their country without forcing them to live a lie.
Proponents of maintaining the policy argue that the U.S. military must conclude its exhaustive and in many ways redundant review process before Congress passes legislation that would repeal the law. This report’s authors disagree. Lawrence J. Korb, Sean Duggan, and Laura Conley argue that the Pentagon is fully capable of assembling a list of administrative and procedural changes while both the House and Senate advance their respective pieces of repeal legislation.
This report analyzes the experiences of the United Kingdom, Canada, and Israel, which make it clear that integrating openly gay men and women into the armed forces need not be a laborious or contentious process. Several administrative and policy changes can ease the transition, and a wide body of literature and practical experience exists to guide this process.
CAP has identified the rather limited and manageable administrative, bureaucratic, and legal changes that must be made to the military’s internal regulations to ensure the new policy is implemented smoothly. These changes are organized into the following eight categories:
Legal issues arising from repeal
Housing and common-use facilities
Discipline and promotion
Retroactive compensation and reinstatement
It is long past time to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that bans openly gay men and women from serving in the military. No reputable or peer-reviewed study by the Pentagon or any independent research organization has ever shown that allowing service by openly gay personnel compromises military cohesion or effectiveness—the main argument speciously given by supporters of the policy to maintain the status quo.