Don't ask, don't tell (DADT) is the common term for the policy regarding gays and lesbians serving openly in the U.S. military mandated by federal law Pub.L. 103-160 (10 U.S.C. § 654). Unless one of the exceptions from 10 U.S.C. § 654(b) applies, the policy prohibits anyone who "demonstrate(s) a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts" from serving in the armed forces of the United States, because "it would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability." The act prohibits any homosexual or bisexual person from disclosing his or her sexual orientation or from speaking about any homosexual relationships, including marriages or other familial attributes, while serving in the United States armed forces. The "don't ask" part of the policy indicates that superiors should not initiate investigation of a service member's orientation in the absence of disallowed behaviors, though mere suspicion of homosexual behavior can cause an investigation.
During his presidential campaign, then-Senator Barack Obama advocated repeal of the policy to allow gay and lesbian people to serve openly in the armed forces, agreeing with General Shalikashvili and stating that the U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops expelled from the military, including language experts fluent in Arabic.
19 days after his election, Obama's advisers announced that plans to repeal the policy may be delayed until as late as 2010, because Obama "first wants to confer with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his new political appointees at the Pentagon to reach a consensus, and then present legislation to Congress."
Obama's current position is that Congress has exclusive authority to lift the ban. However, in May 2009, a committee of military law experts at the University of California at Santa Barbara concluded that it is within the authority of the executive branch to discontinue the policy.
In July 2009, the White House and other Democrats allegedly pressured Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings to withdraw an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2647) that would have prevented the military from using money to carry out the provisions of DADT.
In a major departure from his campaign promises, Obama's administration is defending the policy in court. Regarding the first reference, the government had argued before the Federal Appeals Court in San Francisco that the policy should have a blanket application, therefore negating a requirement for an expulsion review based on merit. Obama administration lawyers let the May 3, 2009 deadline to appeal pass, and the case reverted back to the district court. In court documents, government lawyers agreed with the ruling of the Federal Appeals Court in Boston that DADT is "rationally related to the government's legitimate interest in military discipline and cohesion." An appeal of this case, Pietrangelo v. Gates 08-824, was subsequently rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.
On the eve of the National Equality March in Washington, D.C., October 10, 2009, Barack Obama stated in a speech before the Human Rights Campaign that he will end the policy, but offered no timetable.
Do you support or oppose the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy?
I strongly support it
I support it somewhat
I'm not sure whether I support it or oppose it
I'd like to get more information or input before I take a position on it
I oppose it somewhat
I strongly oppose it
Something else (what?)
If you think that the DADT policy should be repealed, when should it be repealed?
I don't think it should be repealed, I think it should remain
I don't think it should be repealed until we have more information
I think it should be repealed when President Obama is ready to do so
I think it should be repealed when a majority of those in the military support its repeal
I think it should be repealed now
Something else (what?)