Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Over 13,500 service members have been discharged from the Armed Services solely because of their sexual orientation, including thousands of troops in mission critical areas, such as linguists and other members with skills critical to fighting terrorism.

The Government Accountability Office estimates that the policy cost the Armed Forces approximately $95.4 million in recruiting costs and $95.1 million for training replacements for the 9,488 troops that were discharged from 1994 through 2003.

Senator Gillibrand led the charge in the Senate to repeal this discriminatory, harmful policy to strengthen our military, our national security and America's moral fabric.

In July 2009, Senator Gillibrand built support for an 18-month moratorium on enforcement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – sparking weeks of intense discussion within the Senate on the merits of such a proposal. Senator Gillibrand garnered support from several of her Senate colleagues to repeal the policy, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but did not reach the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. 

Continuing the fight for full repeal, Senator Gillibrand secured a commitment from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin to hold a committee hearing on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in February 2010. This was the first Senate hearing on the policy since 1993 – a major step toward the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” 

In his 2010 State of the Union address, President Obama renewed his pledge to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” And at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that Senator Gillibrand secured, the nation’s top two Defense officials, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, both stood with Senator Gillibrand calling for the repeal of this unjust, harmful policy.

At the end of the 111th Congress the bill to repeal DADT was passed by both chambers of Congress and sent to President Obama for his signature. Now that repeal of this policy has become law, the challenge is ensuring that all military branches take the necessary steps to implement repeal. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Gillibrand is working to ensure each branch of the U.S. military makes significant steps toward full repeal of this corrosive policy, allowing all members of the military to serve regardless of their sexual orientation.