Sunday 14 February 2010

The LGBT History Series (14) - 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Now you can't say the NHL LGBT History Series isn't current, today we're looking at the US Army's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy.

The first associated policy was in 1916 when servicemen were presented with 'neutral blue' discharges. In 1947 they were discontinued and 'general' or 'undesireable' discharges were used instead. Under these systems, any servicemen who was thought to be homosexual, without committing a 'homosexual practice' was dishonourably discharged.

The DADT policy, and the later amendment of 'Don't Pursue, Don't Harrass' were first implemented by then-President Bill Clinton, unofficially spurred on by the brutal murder of gay US Navy officer Allen R Schindler Jr. In Clinton's presidential campaign he'd promised that all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation would be allowed to serve openly in the US Military. The policy at this time followed the 1982 Department of Defense Directive 1332.14, saying it was military policy that "homosexuality is incompatible with military service."

In a 2008 poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News, 75% of Americans – including 80% of Democrats, 75% of independents, and 66% of conservatives – said that openly gay people should be allowed to serve in the military. A 2006 international poll of military members found that 66% of respondents who had experience with gays or lesbians in their unit said that the presence of gay or lesbian unit members had either no impact or a positive impact on their personal morale.

The DADT policy has recently come to light under Obama's presidency: during his presidency-campaign he advocated its repeal, and most recently during Obama's State of the Union Address on 27th January, 2010, he stated that he will work with Congress and the military to "finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are."