Discrimination in the United States
2 min

The demise of DADT

There were no fireworks, no gaudy display of patriotism; in fact, there was
nothing at all except the simple passing of time. As the clock struck midnight
on Tuesday, Sept 20, the United States military policy that ruined thousands of careers
simply died.

At 12:01am, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell ended, nine
months after the US Congress repealed the law that had been in place since
1993. DADT allowed gays to serve in the military as long as they did not
openly acknowledge their sexual orientation. Army commanders were not allowed
to ask.

According to The Advocate, the military released a statement on Monday that said the army was
“ready for this change.”

“From this day forward, gay and lesbian Soldiers may serve
in our Army with the dignity and respect they deserve. Our rules, regulations
and politics reflect the repeal guidance issued by the Department of Defense
and will apply uniformly without regard to sexual orientation, which is a
personal and private matter,” wrote the Secretary of the Army, John M McHugh,
and two other Army officials.

branches of the military have spent several months updating regulations in
preparation for the repeal. On Monday, the Pentagon reported that 97 percent of
the military has undergone training in the new law.

lifting of the ban halts all pending investigations, discharges and other
proceedings that were begun under the old law.

Events marking the demise of the ban have been celebrated in
different ways throughout the US.

On Tuesday, lawmakers and defence officials are set to mark
the occasion with a token gathering in Washington, DC, and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will hold a news conference at the Pentagon to discuss the
repeal of the ban.

But the real celebrations began on Monday night.

Gay service member advocacy groups and allies held a number
of DADT is Dead celebrations throughout the country, and HBO aired a documentary
at midnight entitled The Strange History of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

USA Today reports
that one celebration was a marriage between Navy Lt Gary Ross and his civilian
partner, Dan Swezy.

After 11 years together, the two were married just after
midnight on Tuesday, seconds after DADT became history. Their honeymoon will be
brief: Ross goes back to work on Thursday, and no, he does not intend to tell
everyone that he just got married.

"Even though the law goes away, it will still be the
white elephant in the room until everyone comes to terms with it,” he said.

Rock on, America. One legal step forward, two social steps

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