President Biden has released a statement commemorating the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), the policy which formerly barred LGBTQ+ service men, women, and persons from serving openly in the U.S. military.
“Ten years ago today, a great injustice was remedied and a tremendous weight was finally lifted off the shoulders of thousands of dedicated American service members,” the President said, adding that the repeal of the policy, “helped move our nation closer to its foundational promise of equality, dignity, and opportunity for all. It was the right thing to do.”
The President went on to note that over 100,000 servicemembers had been discharged from the military as a result of their sexual orientation or identity, 14,000 of those under DADT. “Many of these veterans received what are known as ‘other than honorable discharges, excluding them and their families from the vitally important services and benefits they had sacrificed so much to earn,” he said.
DADT went into effect in 1994, during the Clinton administration. It barred openly LGBTQ+ individuals from serving in the military, and prohibited discrimination against closeted LGBTQ+ members who were already serving. While service members could not be coerced into providing details of their sexual orientations (“don’t ask”) they were unable to serve openly as members of the LGBTQ+ community (“don’t tell”).
The policy was repealed in 2011, under the first Obama administration.
In his statement, President Biden added that he had championed the repeal of DADT as Vice President. “As President, I am honored to be Commander-in-Chief of the strongest and most inclusive military in our nation’s history,” he said, adding that today’s military is “led at the highest levels by brave LGBTQ+ veterans,” including Gina Ortiz Jones and Shawn Skelly, both Biden appointees to the country’s defense network, and Afghanistan veteran Pete Buttigieg who, as Transportation Secretary, is the first openly LGBTQ+ individual to serve in a presidential cabinet.