[JURIST] The US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] on Tuesday released an extensive report [text, PDF] concluding that the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) [10 USC § 654; JURIST news archive] policy would only minimally effect military effectiveness, soldier retention and family readiness. The Pentagon found that the repeal of DADT would likely bring about some limited and isolated disruption, but, with proper implementation, the risk to overall military readiness is extremely low [press release]. The DOD also released a Support Plan for Implementation [text, PDF], laying out the Comprehensive Review Working Group’s recommendations to proceed with the repeal in a form similar to a military operations order. If Congress repeals DADT, the plan suggests a phase-out of DADT [press release] for the military to follow. Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated [press release; press briefing video] that he was “determined to see that if the law is repealed,” the changes would be implemented in a way to “minimize any negative impact on the morale, cohesion and effectiveness of combat units that are deployed, or about to deploy to the front lines.” President Barack Obama endorsed the report [press release] and called on the Senate to repeal the law by the end of this year:
Today’s report confirms that a strong majority of our military men and women and their families-more than two thirds-are prepared to serve alongside Americans who are openly gay and lesbian. This report also confirms that, by every measure-from unit cohesion to recruitment and retention to family readiness-we can transition to a new policy in a responsible manner that ensures our military strength and national security. And for the first time since this law was enacted 17 years ago today, both the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have publicly endorsed ending this policy.
In May, the US House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) [official websites] voted to repeal the policy after Obama and Gates agreed to a compromise [JURIST reports] that would prevent the repeal from taking effect until the completion of the review.
Last week, US Air Force Major Margaret Witt, who was discharged under DADT, became the first openly gay person to serve in the US military [JURIST report] after the Obama administration did not pursue a stay of a previous federal court decision ordering her reinstatement. In November, Gates called on the 112th Congress to repeal DADT [JURIST report]. In October, Gates issued a memorandum limiting the authority to discharge openly gay service members [JURIST report] to five senior Department of Defense officials. In September, a federal judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Washington [official website] ordered [JURIST report] a US Air Force officer to be reinstated after being previously discharged under DADT. Also in September, the US Senate [official website] rejected a cloture motion [JURIST report] on a defense appropriations bill that would have repealed the policy. Since the enactment of DADT in 1993, approximately 13,000 servicemen and women have been discharged from the armed forces as a result of the policy.