FACTS ABOUT “DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL”

Gay and Lesbian Americans are patriotic and want the right to serve – and sacrifice for – our nation in the armed forces.

According to the Urban Institute’s Population Studies Center, there are one million gay and lesbian Veterans of the U.S. military.

There are an estimated 50,000+ gay U.S. troops currently serving on active and reserve duty.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell limits the ability of lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans to serve in the military by prohibiting them from living their lives honestly or having relationships. Those who do, risk investigation and involuntary discharge from military service.

Almost 10,000 gay service members, three to four every day, have lost their careers since Don’t Tell became law in 1994. Since September 11, 2001, the military has investigated and discharged gay Arabic Linguists (as well as Farsi, Chinese and Russian linguists), despite reports by the General Accounting Office (GAO) that the military and the federal government face a crisis in their shortfall of linguists to translate and interpret Arabic in our nation’s ongoing War on Terrorism.

THE EXPERIENCE OF GAYS AND LESBIANS SERVING IN OTHER MILITARIES / ORGANIZATIONS

Twenty-four foreign militaries – including Israel, Great Britain and Canada – have lifted their gay bans with no difficulties.

American soldiers in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom have served alongside foreign troops from countries without gay bans, almost certainly including some openly gay foreign troops.

America’s other national security agencies do not discriminate against gays. Open gays serve in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and National Security Agency (NSA).

American troops are increasingly also serving alongside elements of federal, state and local law enforcement entities that do not discriminate against gays as part of Homeland Security operations. These entities include the Transportation Security Agency, the Secret Service, Drug Enforcement Agency, and border patrol agencies.

PUBLIC OPINION

In December 2003, a CNN/Gallop Poll found that 78% of Americans believe gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military. 91% of young people ages 18 - 29 believe the ban should be lifted. Public opinion polls indicate a majority of Americans favor allowing gays to serve in uniform. A Fox News poll conducted in August 2003 shows that 64 percent of Americans now favor allowing gays to serve openly in the military, up from 56 percent in a similar poll taken in 2001.

COST OF Don't Ask, Don't Tell

According to the General Accounting Office (GAO), American taxpayers spend more than $30 million each year to train replacements for gay troops discharged under the policy. The total cost since Don’t Tell was implemented is over $250 million dollars. The actual cost is significantly higher, as this figure does not include administrative and legal costs associated with investigations and hearings, security clearances, and military schooling of gay troops such as pilot and linguist training.

CONDUCT CONSIDERATIONS

The current military code of conduct has sufficient provisions that would allow for gays to serve openly. DoD merely needs to apply the rules in a fair and even handed manner, without regard to the sexual orientation of the service member.


The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) contributed to the compilation of this information

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EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT
OF LIFTING THE BAN

A growing body of social science evidence suggests that the presence of gays in the military does not undermine readiness, morale or unit cohesion. This evidence also indicates that lifting the ban on gays in the U.S. military will not cause disruption within our armed forces.

The University of California’s Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military has produced rigorous, peer-reviewed studies in leading journals such as International Security, Armed Forces and Society, and Parameters showing that each time foreign militaries lifted their gay bans, the transition has been without difficulty.

Several additional published studies, including those commissioned by the Defense Department, support the notion of allowing gays to serve:

  • A 1993 Rand Report provided an exhaustive study on gays in the military and concluded that the U.S. military could lift the gay ban without detriment to readiness.
  • The Personnel Security Research and Education Center (PERSEREC) produced two reports (one each in 1988 and 1989) concluding that there was no empirical evidence to support the gay ban, nor is their any data to suggest that gays differed from heterosexuals on any performance measure.