The controversial U.S. military policy “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” is officially repealed. As of midnight Tuesday, gay and lesbian military personnel will be able to serve without hiding their sexual orientation for fear of reprisal.
The law, which has been in effect since 1993, prevented gays from serving openly in its ranks. Since then, over 14,000 servicemen have been discharged from the military due to their sexuality. Those discharged under the law will be given special permission to reenlist provide they meet certain requirements.
Repeal of the law has been in process since the Bill Clinton era; the actual road to repeal took several months of planning and execution. Existing troops have been taking tolerance classes educating them on the change in rules since June.
The Pentagon announced at midnight that it is now taking applications from openly gay citizens. They will receive the same health benefits as all members of the armed forces, and they will be protected from bullying while in the service.
Although the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal is seen as step forward among the gay community, the military is taking a business-as-usual stance concerning the repeal.
"The law is repealed," was the Army’s simple press release on Tuesday morning.
When the DADT repeal took effect at midnight Tuesday, Navy Lt. Gary Ross married his gay partner of 11 years in Duxbury, Vermont.
Although Barack Obama has openly stated that as a Christian he believes marriage is reserved for a man and a woman, he supports the repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy, stating that “the key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve.”
Existing military laws regarding other forms of physical conduct, such as public displays of affection, remain intact.