Gays Gain Equality in U.S. Armed Forces

Tuesday, 04 January 2011 14:59 Written by  Essence McDowell

In 1946, President Harry S. Truman appointed the President's Committee on Civil Rights to investigate the state of civil rights within the nation. Almost a year later, the committee released a report titled “To Secure These Rights,” in which they exposed the racial discrimination in the U.S. armed forces.




Despite widespread political and social opposition, President Truman issued an Executive Order 9981 for the desegregation of civil service and the armed forces and civil services in 1948.


In present day, the armed forces are racially integrated but discrimination exists for another group—homosexuals.


For decades, being gay while servicing in the military was cause of discharge. President Clinton enacted the “Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue” policy in 1993, which required troops to hide their sexual orientation. Under the policy, an estimated 13,000 troops have since been dismissed from service.

Now, 17 years later, President Obama has signed legislation putting an end to the military’s discriminatory “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) policy. For the first time in the nation’s history, gays and lesbians will be able to openly serve in the armed forces.


The debate on sexual orientation in the military has finally come to an end after senators voted 65-31 to repeal DADT.

By ending ’Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay,” said President Obama in a statement released by the White House. “This law will strengthen our national security and uphold the ideals that our fighting men and women risk their lives to defend.”

arThe ban will not immediately take effect. According to CNN, the process is lengthy. The Pentagon has an 87-page implementation plan for the repeal of “don't ask, don't tell.” Over the next several weeks, military officials need to examine and rewrite a series of policies, regulations and directives related to the current law.

cgOnce that potentially lengthy process is complete, Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen each will have to certify that the repeal can move ahead without negatively affecting unit cohesion and military readiness. After the certification, another 60 days will need to pass before the repeal is officially enacted.

Despite the time frame of the implementation process, “don’t ask, don’t tell” has finally come to an end. The repeal is a monumental step in the quest for gay rights throughout the nation.



Essence McDowell

Essence McDowell

Essence McDowell is a freelance writer for GlossMagazineOnline and recent graduate of the Masters in Journalism program at DePaul University.

She can be contacted at