As the DADT repeal certification period ends today Tuesday, September 20, the military has released an official notice that its ban on openly gay service personnel known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) is repealed and that lesbian, bisexual and gay servicemembers can now serve their country openly without fear of separation simply because of who they are.
For those who may struggle to read the above, the order reads (edited down):
Today marks the end of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” The law is repealed. From this day forward, gay and lesbian Soldiers may serve in our Army with the dignity and respect they deserve. Our rules, regulations and politics reflect the repeal guidance issued by the Department of Defense and will apply uniformly without regard to sexual orientation, which is a personal and private matter.
For over 236 years, the U.S. Army has been an extraordinary force for good in the world. Our Soldiers are the most agile, adaptable and capable warriors in history — and we are ready for this change.
Accordingly, we expect all personnel to follow our Values by implementing the repeal fully, fairly and in accordance with policy guidance. It is the duty of all personnel to treat each other with dignity and respect, while maintaining good order and discipline throughout our ranks. Doing so, will help the U.S. Army remain the Strength of the Nation.
Other Headlines on LGBTs in the Military:
The magazine OutServe, which will be circulated on army bases from the end of the month, will feature around 100 active servicemen and women openly identifying as lesbian or gay for the first time in addition to its continuing OutHeroes project. This coincides with one of OutServe’s principal organizers shedding his “J.D. Smith” pseudonym and coming out as Lt. Josh Seefried. Read a stripes.com interview with Seefried here on how he anticipates his life will change.
The AP has released a video reflecting on the impact of the DADT policy that saw more than 14,500 troops separated from the military because of their sexuality since the law was enacted in 1993 (and countless more under the military’s previous ban on gay troops).
Continuing for just a moment on this a more somber note, direct action group GetEqual is planning a “Day of Discontent,” and is holding events in key conservative areas so as to draw attention to the inequality that LGBT Americans still face even after the repeal with the hopes that lawmakers both local and federal do not think that their work is done in fulfilling the guarantee of equality for LGBTs. Perhaps most saliently, that DADT repeal does not end the ban on openly trans servicemembers, an issue GetEqual has been keen to highlight. For information on trans servicemember issues please click here.
Turning our attention back to the more positive, in an AP exclusive published late last week it was revealed that, nearly 70 years after expelling World War II veteran Melvin Dwork for being gay, the Navy is changing his discharge from “undesirable” to “honorable.” Read more on that here.
And to mark the end of the ban, Navy Lt. Gary Ross and his partner, who have been together for 11 years, were married before a small group of family and friends in Vermont. Ross, 33, and Dan Swezy, a 49-year-old civilian, traveled from their home in Tucson, Ariz., so they could marry in Vermont where same-sex marriage is legal. As this NPR article notes, this was also Gary Ross’ official coming out too. Due to the Defense of Marriage Act, Gary and Dan will not be able to access the same partner benefits as married straight couples but they are celebrating this progress toward equality by making their relationship official. Many well wishes to them.
Last in our news round-up, HBO aired a documentary at midnight entitled “The Strange History of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” last night. Here is the trailer:
It is running again tonight at 8pm. You can find more information here.