Tuesday, September 20, was a historic day for the LGBT community nationwide. “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” the antiquated military action prohibiting gay, lesbian or bisexuals from serving openly in the Armed Forces, has finally been completely repealed. Of course, this does not mean it will be smooth flaming from here, but it is certainly a step in the right direction. In honor of this great moment, I wanted to provide a timeline with the 8 most significant moments in the history of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

  • 1950: President Harry S. Truman signed the Uniform Code of Military Justice. This had a section specifically relating to homosexuals in the armed forces; basically, it set up the idea of discharging people for their sexual orientation.


  • 1982: The Department of Defense formalized policies like those signed by President Truman. They stated that “homosexuality is incompatible with military service.” Any acknowledgement of homosexuality was grounds for discharge or rejection from the application process.


  • 1992: In his presidential campaign, Bill Clinton announced that he supported the repeal of the ban on homosexuals serving in the military.


  • 1993: Unable to orchestrate a complete removal of the ban, President Clinton compromised with Congress and the Pentagon. The result was the 1994 Defense Authorization Act, which includes the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. This removed the question of orientation from the recruitment forms, but it still allowed for rejection or discharge if homosexuality was discovered.


  • 1998: In Andrew Holmes vs. California Army National Guard, the Supreme Court upheld “don’t ask, don’t tell.”


  • 2000-2010: Various studies were done by the Department of Defense, Congress, universities, etc. to determine if “don’t ask, don’t tell” was helpful or harmful.


  • 2010: Congress voted to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.”


  • 2011: “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” is officially repealed.


If you’d like to see more on this topic, here are some other sites with timelines following the development and repeal of the policy:


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