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social sciences

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Don't Ask, Don't Tell  
page: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  

On July 22, 2011, the White House announced that President Obama, Secretary of Defense Panetta, and Chair of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mullen had certified that the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell would not negatively affect military readiness or unit cohesion. Senator Carl Levin, Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced: "Today's certification for all practical purposes marks the end of a discriminatory policy."

Sixty days later, on September 20, 2011, the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy was officially repealed.

Sponsor Message.

Even though Don't Ask, Don't Tell was now dead, many questions remained, including whether DADT is or is not unconstitutional.

Whether that question will ever be answered is less likely than it once appeared. On September 29, 2011, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the Log Cabin suit, declaring it moot.

"This suit became moot when the repeal of section 654 took effect on September 20," the panel declared. "If Log Cabin filed suit today seeking a declaration that section 654 is unconstitutional or an injunction against its application (or both), there would be no Article III controversy because there is no section 654. The repeal, in short, gave Log Cabin 'everything' its complaint 'hoped to achieve' . . . . There is no longer 'a present, live controversy of the kind that must exist' for us to reach the merits."

More surprisingly, and disappointingly, in a strongly worded conclusion the panel also deemed the October 2010 opinion by District Judge Virginia Phillips declaring DADT unconstitutional without precedential value: "Because Log Cabin has stated its intention to use the district court's judgment collaterally, we will be clear: It may not. Nor may its members or anyone else. We vacate the district court's judgment, injunction, opinions, orders, and factual findings--indeed, all of its past rulings--to clear the path completely for any future litigation. Those now-void legal rulings and factual findings have no precedential, preclusive, or binding effect. The repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell provides Log Cabin with all it sought and may have had standing to obtain."

In response to the Court's decision, Dan Wood, lead attorney for Log Cabin Republicans in the case, issued the following statement: "We are, of course, disappointed by today's ruling but we will continue to fight on for the constitutional rights of all people impacted by Don't Ask, Don't Tell. This is an important issue for all Americans and we anticipate seeking re-hearing before the full Ninth Circuit."

In addition, there remained questions of whether servicemembers who were discharged under DADT are entitled to recompense and whether glbtq servicemembers are entitled to protection from discrimination.

A lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of former Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard Collins in the Federal Claims Court sought full severance pay for gay and lesbian servicemembers who were discharged under DADT and received only half the severance pay offered others who involuntarily left the service.

On September 22, 2011, Judge Christine Odell Cook Miller indicated that she would probably rule that Collins v. U.S.A. be allowed to proceed to trial, but in effect urged the government to settle the suit rather than attempt to defend a policy that may be indefensible. In response, the government changed its policy and settled the suit.

The military moved quickly to adopt policies ensuring that glbtq servicemembers were treated equally. One barrier to equal treatment, however, was the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited the provision of some benefits to the spouses and partners of gay and lesbian servicemembers. When that barrier fell as a result of the Supreme Court ruling in Windsor v. U.S., which declared Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstituional, the military moved swiftly to recognize the legal same-sex marriages of servicemembers.

Geoffrey W. Bateman
Claude J. Summers

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"Architect of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Favors Ending Gay Ban if Draft Returns." The Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military. January 3, 2003;

Belkin, Aaron, and Geoffrey Bateman, eds. Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Debating the Gay Ban in the Military. Boulder, Col.: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2003.

Belkin, Aaron, and Melissa S. Embser-Herbert. "A Modest Proposal: Privacy as a Flawed Rationale for Excluding Gays and Lesbians from the U. S. Military." International Security 27 (2002): 178-97.

Frank, Nathaniel. Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2009.

Halley, Janet E. Don't: A Reader's Guide to the Military's Anti-Gay Policy. Durham, N. C.: Duke University Press, 1999.

Herek, Gregory M., Jared B. Jobe, and Ralph M. Carney. Out in Force: Sexual Orientation and the Military. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Kier, Elizabeth. "Homosexuals in the U.S. Military: Open Integration and Combat Effectiveness." International Security 23 (1998): 5-39.

MacCoun, Robert J. "Sexual Orientation and Military Cohesion: A Critical Review of the Evidence." Out in Force: Sexual Orientation and the Military. Gregory M. Herek, Jared B. Jobe, and Ralph M. Carney, eds. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. 157-176.

Miller, Laura, and John Allen Williams. "Do Military Policies on Gender and Sexuality Undermine Combat Effectiveness?" Soldiers and Civilians. Peter D. Feaver and Richard H. Kohn, eds. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2001. 386-429.

Newport, Frank. "In-Depth Analyses: Homosexuality." Gallup Poll News Service (September 2002);

Ocamb, Karen. "Former Major Margaret Witt's DADT Trial Resumes on Monday." LGBT POV (September 11, 2010):

Pickler, Nedra. "Gov't Opposes Full Severance Pay for Military Gays." News from the Associated Press (September 22, 2011):

"Polls Show Reduction of Soldiers' Opposition to Gays." The Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military. August 6, 2001;

Rimmerman, Craig A., ed. Gay Rights, Military Wrongs: Political Perspectives on Lesbians and Gays in the Military. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1996.

Scott, Wilbur J., and Sandra Carson Stanley, eds. Gays and Lesbians in the Military: Issues, Concerns, and Contrasts. New York: Aldine De Gruyter, 1994.

Vaid, Urvashi. "The Mainstream Response: Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation. New York: Anchor/Doubleday, 1996. 148-177.


    Citation Information
    Author: Bateman, Geoffrey W. ; Summers, Claude J.  
    Entry Title: Don't Ask, Don't Tell  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated April 2, 2014  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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