Implementation-Policy Transition

How to End "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

A Roadmap of Political, Legal, Regulatory, and Organizational Steps to Equal Treatment
May 11, 2009
Aaron Belkin, Nathaniel Frank, Gregory M. Herek, Elizabeth L. Hillman, Diane H. Mazur, Bridget J. Wilson
Palm Center

Download the study here.

Executive Summary

President Barack Obama has stated his intention to end the Pentagon policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and allow gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military. The federal statute governing this policy, Section 571 of the FY1994 National Defense Authorization Act, codified at 10 U.S.C. § 654, is titled “Policy Concerning Homosexuality in the Armed Forces” and has come to be known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

While strong majorities of the public, and growing numbers within the military, support such a change, some political leaders and military members have expressed anxiety about what impact it will have on the armed forces. Scholarly evidence shows that the ban on service by openly gay personnel is unlikely to impair military effectiveness or to harm recruiting, retention or unit cohesion. Yet questions remain as to how best to execute and manage the transition from exclusion to inclusion of openly gay personnel in a way that takes into consideration the concerns and sensitivities of the military community. In this report, we address political, legal, regulatory, and organizational steps that will ensure that the implementation process goes smoothly. We begin by suggesting six key points that should be kept in mind as policymakers consider the change.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary                       
Expected Impact of Service by Openly Gay Personnel
Presidential Authority to Suspend Discharges for Homosexual Conduct
Regulatory Revisions that should Accompany Policy Change
Organizational Changes that should Accompany Policy Change
Responses to 1993 Questions by Senator Sam Nunn   
Draft Executive Order Suspending Discharges for Homosexual Conduct
Relevant Sources                           
Contributors

This report addresses political, legal, regulatory, and organizational steps to ensure a smooth end to "don't ask, don't tell."  read more »

The Long, Long Wait for Evidence

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Today’s New York Times forum seems so balanced yet so bizarre...the even-handed framing implies that those who oppose open gay service do so on the basis of evidence.

Pentagon should not study gay ban

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If the proposed Pentagon study commission is packed with pro-repeal experts, its conclusion will be pre-ordained and will have no value.  But if the Pentagon is left to its own devices to study the gays-in-the-military issue, it will likely make a hack job of the project.

What Does Colin Powell Mean?

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Former Joint Chiefs Chair Colin Powell said this week that "don't ask, don't tell" should be re-examined. But what, exactly, does he mean? When Powell calls for the ban's rexamination, is he saying that it should be studied so that it can be left alone? Eliminated? Something else?

Perhaps he's just saying that we don't know enough about the ban to know what to do without re-examining it. But that doesn't make sense either

What we know, based on research, is that eliminating the ban will help the military. Military leaders, of course, will never say that. None of the 24 foreign militaries that lifted their bans did so because the military called for change. This is a situation in which the military needs to be told what to do.

Does “don’t ask, don’t tell” impact transgender service members?

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Yes, it does.

That was one of the findings from a unique and timely survey conducted by the Transgender American Veteran’s Association [TAVA] and analyzed in August by Palm Center researchers.  read more »

Timing for Repeal?

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Now that some of the dust has settled from the recent debate over how fast to move on gays in the military under an Obama administration, we can step back and take a look at where we are...

Notes for President-Elect Obama

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President-Elect Barack Obama has said he supports the repeal of the current policy banning open gays in the military. Yet movement on “don’t ask, don’t tell” remains uncertain. Here’s what the president-elect should keep in mind…

Report of the General/ Flag Officers' Study Group

July 28, 2008
General/Flag Officers Study Group
Palm Center Whitepaper

July 2008 - A bipartisan study group of senior retired military officers, representing different branches of the service, conducted an in-depth assessment of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.  read more »

Sexual Orientation and Military Service

Prospects for Organizational and Individual Change in the United States
December 1, 2005
Dr. Gregory Herek and Dr. Aaron Belkin
A slightly modified version of this study appears in Military Life; The Psychology of Serving in Peace and Combat, Thomas W. Britt (ed.), Amy B. Adler (ed.), Carl Andrew Castro (ed.), Greenwood Press, 2006.

Click here for a pdf version.

This paper addresses the issue of sexual orientation and military service  including an historical overview, critique of contemporary rationales and social psychological issues relevant to the organizational and individual changes that might follow from eliminating the ban on gay and lesbian personnel. 

This paper addresses the issue of sexual orientation and military service  including an historical overview, critique of contemporary rationales and social psychological issues relevant to the organizational and individual changes that might follow from eliminating the ban on gay and lesbian personnel.  read more »

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