Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Evolution and Demise

Encyclopedia of LGBTQ Studies. Ed. Abbie Goldberg. SAGE: Thousand Oaks, CA, 2015 Forthcoming

8 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2014

Date Written: August 27, 2014


Title 10 of the US Code, Section 654 entitled “Policy Concerning Homosexuality in the Armed Forces” was passed into law in 1993 and became commonly known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). DADT expressly forbid open homosexuality in the US military. It required that a member of the US armed forces be separated from military service if s/he had (1) engaged in, attempted to engage in, or solicited another to engage in a homosexual act or act; (2) had stated that s/he was homosexual or bisexual; or, (3) had married or attempted to marry a person known to be of the same biological sex. During the seventeen years in which DADT was in force, more than 13,000 gay, bisexual and lesbian service members were forcibly separated under the policy. DADT was not a spontaneous political issue from the 1990s, but rather a deep-seated cultural issue that began to emerge after World War II and continued to evolve over the next six decades. In September 2012, after certification by the Commander-in-Chief, Secretary of Defense, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, DADT was finally rendered obsolete, at which point it became permissible to serve openly in the US military irrespective of one’s sexual orientation. This chapter seeks to describe the historical context that gave rise to the evolution and decline of DADT from 1949 to 2011.

Keywords: LBGT, military, DADT, gay, lesbian, policy

JEL Classification: Z10

Suggested Citation

Parco, Jim, Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Evolution and Demise (August 27, 2014). Encyclopedia of LGBTQ Studies. Ed. Abbie Goldberg. SAGE: Thousand Oaks, CA, 2015 Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

Jim Parco (Contact Author)

Colorado College ( email )

Department of Economics and Business
14 E. Cache la Poudre St.
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
United States
719-389-6416 (Phone)
719-389-6927 (Fax)


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