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President Barack Obama has stated his intention to end the Pentagon policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and allow gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military. The federal statute governing this policy, Section 571 of the FY1994 National Defense Authorization Act, codified at 10 U.S.C. § 654, is titled “Policy Concerning Homosexuality in the Armed Forces” and has come to be known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
While strong majorities of the public, and growing numbers within the military, support such a change, some political leaders and military members have expressed anxiety about what impact it will have on the armed forces. Scholarly evidence shows that the ban on service by openly gay personnel is unlikely to impair military effectiveness or to harm recruiting, retention or unit cohesion. Yet questions remain as to how best to execute and manage the transition from exclusion to inclusion of openly gay personnel in a way that takes into consideration the concerns and sensitivities of the military community. In this report, we address political, legal, regulatory, and organizational steps that will ensure that the implementation process goes smoothly. We begin by suggesting six key points that should be kept in mind as policymakers consider the change.
Table of Contents
Expected Impact of Service by Openly Gay Personnel
Presidential Authority to Suspend Discharges for Homosexual Conduct
Regulatory Revisions that should Accompany Policy Change
Organizational Changes that should Accompany Policy Change
Responses to 1993 Questions by Senator Sam Nunn
Draft Executive Order Suspending Discharges for Homosexual Conduct