One year later, no problems with DADT repeal

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DADT_WEB

A year after the full repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, researchers say they see only favorable results from gays and lesbians serving openly in the U.S. Armed Forces.

“The U.S. military has set an international standard with the smooth transition to openly gay service,” said Aaron Belkin, lead author of “One Year Out: An Assessment of DADT Repeal’s Impact on Military Readiness.”

The Palm Center in California released the report, prepared with help from professors at the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy and U.S. Marine Corps War College, to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the repeal on Sept. 20.

DADT, implemented in the early years of Democrat Bill Clinton’s first term, earned its nickname because it banned military officers from asking about a servicemember’s sexual orientation and prohibited servicemembers from coming out as gay. The policy was a compromise – Clinton had wanted to lift the longtime ban on gay servicemembers, but the GOP-controlled Congress wanted to keep the prohibition.

In the 2008 presidential election, every Democrat running for the White House pledged to repeal DADT. President Barack Obama made repeal a White House priority in 2010. The process proved lengthy – with studies and surveys, debates and decisions required by the Defense Department, Congress and the administration.

Opponents of repeal included more than 1,000 retired generals and admirals who signed a statement predicting that open service would “break the all-volunteer force.”

But Belkin said the review of the first year found that repeal has not compromised security, readiness or unit cohesion.

The researchers found:

• Only two servicemembers, both chaplains, were identified as having left the military as a result of DADT repeal.

• A Pentagon spokesperson told the study’s co-authors that she was not aware of a single episode of violence associated with repeal.

• Pentagon data show that recruitment and retention remained robust after repeal.

• Survey data revealed that service-wide, the troops reported the same level of morale after repeal as they did before repeal.

• Survey data revealed that service-wide, the troops reported the same level of readiness after repeal as they did before repeal.

The researchers, who surveyed officers, servicemembers, veterans, scholars, and activists for and against repeal, also found that trust among troops improved following the lifting of the ban.

Servicemembers and LGBT civil rights advocates celebrated the one-year anniversary of repeal with small events around the United States and with a gala in New York City hosted by Barbara Walters, with Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as a special guest.

Meanwhile, the issue of gays serving in the military remains politically charged.

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin voted against repealing DADT, while GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said he opposed the repeal but reinstatement of the policy would be unnecessary. The Republican Party platform adopted at the national convention in Tampa, Fla., in late August states, “We reject the use of the military as a platform for social experimentation and will not accept attempts to undermine military priorities and mission readiness.”

In their platform, Democrats referred to the lifting of the ban as a civil rights achievement, and numerous speakers celebrated the repeal.

A year after the full repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, researchers say they see only favorable results from gays and lesbians serving openly in the U.S. Armed Forces.

“The U.S. military has set an international standard with the smooth transition to openly gay service,” said Aaron Belkin, lead author of “One Year Out: An Assessment of DADT Repeal’s Impact on Military Readiness.”

The Palm Center in California released the report, prepared with help from professors at the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy and U.S. Marine Corps War College, to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the repeal on Sept. 20.

DADT, implemented in the early years of Democrat Bill Clinton’s first term, earned its nickname because it banned military officers from asking about a servicemember’s sexual orientation and prohibited servicemembers from coming out as gay. The policy was a compromise – Clinton had wanted to lift the longtime ban on gay servicemembers, but the GOP-controlled Congress wanted to keep the prohibition.

In the 2008 presidential election, every Democrat running for the White House pledged to repeal DADT. President Barack Obama made repeal a White House priority in 2010. The process proved lengthy – with studies and surveys, debates and decisions required by the Defense Department, Congress and the administration.

Opponents of repeal included more than 1,000 retired generals and admirals who signed a statement predicting that open service would “break the all-volunteer force.”

But Belkin said the review of the first year found that repeal has not compromised security, readiness or unit cohesion.

The researchers found:

• Only two servicemembers, both chaplains, were identified as having left the military as a result of DADT repeal.

• A Pentagon spokesperson told the study’s co-authors that she was not aware of a single episode of violence associated with repeal.

• Pentagon data show that recruitment and retention remained robust after repeal.

• Survey data revealed that service-wide, the troops reported the same level of morale after repeal as they did before repeal.

• Survey data revealed that service-wide, the troops reported the same level of readiness after repeal as they did before repeal.

The researchers, who surveyed officers, servicemembers, veterans, scholars, and activists for and against repeal, also found that trust among troops improved following the lifting of the ban.

Servicemembers and LGBT civil rights advocates celebrated the one-year anniversary of repeal with small events around the United States and with a gala in New York City hosted by Barbara Walters, with Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as a special guest.

Meanwhile, the issue of gays serving in the military remains politically charged.

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin voted against repealing DADT, while GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said he opposed the repeal but reinstatement of the policy would be unnecessary. The Republican Party platform adopted at the national convention in Tampa, Fla., in late August states, “We reject the use of the military as a platform for social experimentation and will not accept attempts to undermine military priorities and mission readiness.”

In their platform, Democrats referred to the lifting of the ban as a civil rights achievement, and numerous speakers celebrated the repeal.

“Whose leadership, whose judgment, whose values do you want in the White House when that crisis lands like a thud on the Oval Office desk? A person who wanted to keep ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ or a president who believes that who you love should not keep you from serving the country you love?” asked Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in his convention speech.