The era of DADT – Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the military’s ban on openly gay service members, will come to an end on Tuesday. And while supporters of the ban continue to warn of impending problems, advocates for open service are planning a host of celebratory events, ranging from book releases to film openings to gay service members going public with their identities.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) was the official United States policy on homosexuals serving in the military from December_21, 1993 to September 20, 2011.
The policy prohibited military personnel from discriminating against or harassing closeted homosexual or bisexual service members or applicants, while barring openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual persons from military service.
A prominent gay rights advocate who called himself J D Smith is in fact 1st Lt Josh Seefried, a 25-year-old active-duty Air Force officer. At 12:01 am on Tuesday, he dropped the pseudonym, freed from keeping his sexual orientation secret like an estimated tens of thousands of others in the United States military.
The 18-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy officially ended at midnight and with it the discharges that removed more than 13,000 men and women from the military under the old ban on openly gay troops. To mark the historic change, gay rights groups are planning celebrations across the country while Defense Secretary Leon E Panetta and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will usher in the new era at a Pentagon news conference.
No one knows how many gay members of the military will come out on Tuesday, although neither gay rights advocates nor Pentagon officials are expecting big numbers, at least not initially.
A congressional bill to repeal DADT was enacted in December_2010, specifying that the policy would remain in place until the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certified that repeal would not harm military readiness, followed by a 60-day waiting period. A July_6, 2011 ruling from a federal appeals court barred further enforcement of the U.S. military’s ban on openly gay service members. President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent that certification to Congress on July_22, 2011, which set the end of DADT for September 20, 2011.
Source: Health News Track, USA