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MEI: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Facts


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

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.


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.


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.


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