TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Oklahoma --
The United States military has come a long way in protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ military members over the past 10 years, spurred on with the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell on Tuesday, September 20, 2011. When the issue was being debated in Congress, LGBTQ+ military advocates were bolstered by research and testimony from the American Psychological Association. Officials from the largest scientific psychological association in America testified that research demonstrated sexual orientation would not impact any aspect of military effectiveness including unit cohesion, morale, recruitment and retention. Testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee the APA declared that “there are existing data on what happens in the U.S. armed forces when gay and lesbian service members serve openly. The gay ban was functionally suspended during the first Gulf War. There was no evidence of adverse effects on military readiness. In addition, the cohesion and performance of the first Gulf War troops was widely commended.”
Another driving factor in ending DADT was public opinion. The US Military was approaching 10 years at war and many Americans did not understand why able bodied dedicated Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines were being excluded from serving. Examples were abundant of service members who had been discharged despite stellar military records. At a time when recruiting was suffering this just didn’t make sense.
Yet another factor driving the end of DADT was the overall population’s acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals outside of the military. As more individuals came out, stereotypes were eroding and with them much of the misconception of what LGBTQ+ service members bring to the fight. Old fallacies such as “gay people can be blackmailed” were proven incorrect. Fears that openly gay and lesbian service members would result in an exodus of others from the military also proved incorrect.
The repeal of DADT was a step closer to providing rights to those of the LGBTQ+ community. It marks the beginning of a decade of growing acceptance and visibility for community members in the armed forces. Almost four years after, in June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriages legal in all 50 states in Obergefell v. Hodges. It wasn’t until the next year, in June 2016, that transgender individuals were allowed to openly serve with their desired gender identity, officially recognizing LGBT service members. In fact, since the repeal of DADT, overall acceptance of same-sex marriage within the US has seen a massive rise from approximately 49 percent in 2011, to over 70 percent today.
Happy 10th Anniversary to the enactment of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 that created a platform for equal footing for lesbian, gay, and bisexual military members who have served proudly for many years. For 10 years, military members of all orientations have been able to serve openly, without legal retribution, attaining acceptance and honor. We give thanks to all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer military members for serving.