Six Surprising Facts about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

LGBT, Relationships, Rights

Votes are expected this week in both the House and Senate on the repeal of the long-standing US military policy, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT).

Those in favor of the repeal, including Retired Gen. John Shalikashvili, who led the implementation of the policy,  Retired Army Gen. Colin Powell, and even Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Obama, say quite simply, that it’s time for a change.

A new CNN Poll also revealed that 8 in 10 Americans favor gays and lesbians serving openly.

Regardless of  your opinion, here are six facts about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell that will make you stop and think:

1) More than 25 countries allow gays and lesbians to serve. The US and Turkey are the only NATO members to NOT allow gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military. Some 16 countries – including Pakistan, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen – bar open homosexuals from serving in the military. Across Africa, 37 countries declare homosexuality outright illegal – inside the military or out. [Christian Science Monitor]

2) In the US, more than 13,000 American service members have been discharged under DADT. This number does not take into account the hundreds – perhaps thousands – more that have left the military voluntarily since the policy was implemented in 1994. [Christian Science Monitor]

3) DADT hurts women and minorities most. In 2008, 45% of troops discharged under ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ were minorities, while minorities were 30% of the service. Women accounted for 34% of the discharges but were 14% of the military. [USA Today]

4) In a time of war, the US could gain more service members. Lifting DADT restrictions could attract an estimated 36,700 men and women to active duty service and 12,000 more individuals to the guard and reserve. [Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law]

5) DADT has cost more than a billion dollars. Since its inception in 1994, the “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” policy has cost the military between $290 million to more than a half a billion dollars. The military spends an estimated $22,000 to $43,000 per person to replace those discharged under DADT. [Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law]

6) Fears of damaged morale and risks to unit cohesion are unfounded. An extensive study of foreign militaries that allow gays and lesbians, revealed allowing homosexuals to serve contributes to improving the command climate, decreasing harassment, retaining critical personnel, and enhancing respect for privacy. [Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara]