July 26, 1948 – President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9981 establishing “equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the Armed Forces without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.”
May 5, 1950 – Congress passed the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which was signed by President Harry S. Truman and took effect on May 31, 1951. The Code set up discharge rules for homosexual service members.
March 15, 1957 – A Navy study released the Crittenden Report, which stated that “homosexual service members [do] not pose a greater security risk than heterosexual personnel.” However, it added, “Individuals and those who have indulged in homosexual behavior cannot acceptably serve in the military,” but admits that the concept “persists without supporting data, but which cannot be disproved at this time.”
January 28, 1982 – A Defense Directive issued by the Pentagon, stated that “Homosexuality is incompatible with military service” and people who engaged in homosexual acts or stated that they were homosexuals or bisexuals will be discharged.
June 30, 1986 – The Supreme Court rules that there is no fundamental constitutional right for people engaging in homosexual acts. The ruling in the Bowers v. Hardwick case was used to uphold the military’s constitutional right to discharge a person for homosexual behavior.
December 1988 – The Personnel Security Research and Education Center issued two reports examining whether homosexual service members posed security risks or were unsuitable for service. The reports “found no data to support the ban on gays in the military.”
October 1991 – While campaigning for President, Democratic candidate Bill Clinton promises, if elected, to lift the ban on homosexuals serving in the military.
March 19, 1993 – The Senate and House Armed Services Committees hold hearing on the military’s anti-homosexual policy. The generals and admirals that testified were against lifting the ban on gays, stating it would be harmful to national security and the welfare of the military. Secretary of Defense Les Aspin stated that he felt that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (as President Clinton called the compromise) would provide a sensible balance. The hearings continued through July 22, 1993.
May 1993 – In the Senate and House Armed Services Committees hearings, congressional support begins to emerge over the new approach described by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sam Nunn as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT).
November 30, 1993 – President Clinton signs the 1994 National Defense Authorization Act into law, which includes the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.
March 16, 2000 – The Defense Department’s Military Environment with Respect to Homosexual Conduct findings. The survey showed that 80% of those that responded had heard offensive anti-gay speech in the previous year and 37% reported witnessing negative behavior towards suspected homosexuals in the military.
August 2003 – Retired Rear Admiral John Hutson, who, as Judge Advocate General of the Navy, had been responsible for enforcing DADT, called for the policy’s repeal. In an article in The National Law Journal, Hutson called the gay ban “odious” and “virtually unworkable in the military.”
February 23, 2005 – In a report released by the Government Accountability Office concerning DADT, the key findings were that during the years 1994 through 2003, the military separated nearly 9,500 service members for homosexual conduct at a cost of $95 million to replace them.
March 2006 – The Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could withhold funding from universities that refuse to permit military recruiters on campus. Some universities forbid the presence of military recruiters because of discrimination against gays in the military.
January 2007 – In an op-ed printed in the New York Times, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Shalikashvili, calls for repeal of the ban on gays serving in the military.
February 27, 2007 – A Zogby International poll reveals that 73% of active duty troops are comfortable with the idea of serving with gay people, and one quarter of those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan personally knew someone in their unit who was gay or lesbian. Congressman Marty Meehan targets repeal of DADT and reintroduces the Military Readiness Act. The Act failed to pass Congress.
March 2007 – A commission made up of economists and defense leaders, including former Defense Secretary William Perry, concluded that DADT had now cost taxpayers over $363 million since 1994 to enforce and train replacements.
April 4, 2007 – In response to calls for repeal, President George W. Bush stated, “I do believe the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy is good policy.”
June 13, 2007 – Rep. Ellen Tauscher became the lead sponsor of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, assuming the lead from Rep. Meehan in anticipation of his July retirement from Congress.
July 2007 – A CBS news investigation revealed that 8,000 criminal conviction waivers were issued because the army was so desperate for new recruits. At least 100 of those were waivers for felony violent crime and drug convictions.
October 1, 2007 – Admiral Mike Mullen is installed as the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During his confirmation hearings, he said that he supported the ban on gays serving in the military, but was open to hearing Congress debate it.
November 29, 2007 – Then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama told the Human Rights Campaign: “I will work for a full repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’. That work should have started long ago. It will start when I take office. America is ready to get rid of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy; all that is required is leadership.” Obama campaigns on full repeal of the law.
November 30, 2007 – A letter to Congress urging repeal of DADT is signed by 28 retired admirals and generals.
July 19, 2008 – A Washington Post/ABC News poll revealed that 75% of Americans believe in the repeal of DADT.
December 12, 2008 – In response to a question from Fareed Zarkaria about DADT, former Secretary of State General Colin Powell states: “We definitely should reevaluate it. It’s been fifteen years since we put in ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ which was a policy that became a law. I didn’t want it to become a law, but it became a law. Congress felt that strongly about it. But it’s been fifteen years and attitudes have changed. And so I think it is time for the Congress, since it is their law, to have a full review of it and I am quite sure that is what President-Elect Obama will want to do.”
January 21, 2009 – White House Press Secretary Gibbs states that President Obama will repeal DADT, but adds that there are more important issues to address first, including the economy.
March 3, 2009 – Rep. Ellen Tauscher re-introduces the Military Readiness Enhancement Act to Congress with 112 co-sponsors.
March 19, 2009 – Lt. Dan Choi, a West Point graduate and Iraq veteran fluent in Arabic, announced that he was gay on “The Rachel Maddow Show.” From that point forward, Choi became an activist working for the repeal of DADT.
May 20, 2009 – Air Force Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, a decorated 18-year fighter weapons systems officer, appears on “The Rachel Maddow Show” to discuss his impending discharge under DADT. Fehrenbach was outed after he was falsely accused of raping a man.
March 29, 2009 – When asked about official efforts to end the ban, Defense Secretary Robert Gates tells Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday”: “I think the President and I feel like we’ve got a lot on our plates right now, and let’s push that one down the road a little bit.”
June 5, 2009 – A Gallup poll reveals 69% of adults favor repeal of DADT, a 6% increase from five years earlier.
June 9, 2009 – Judge Virginia Phillips denies the Justice Department’s attempt to dismiss the Log Cabin Republicans’ lawsuit challenging the DADT policy as unconstitutional.
June 22, 2009 – 77 members of the House of Representatives write an open letter to President Obama calling for the leadership he promised during his campaign to repeal DADT.
June 30, 2009 – Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that Pentagon lawyers are trying to make DADT “more flexible, more humane” until it is eliminated.
July 13, 2009 – On CNN, President Obama admits he could sign an executive order freezing discharges under DADT by Executive “stop loss” power, but admits he has chosen not to do so, stating it is Congress’s responsibility to change the law.
October 12, 2009 – On CNN, Rep. Joe Sestak, a retired Navy Vice Admiral, stated: “We should have done away with ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ years ago.
October 18, 2009 – Rep. Duncan Hunter, Jr., a U.S. Marine Corp veteran, “For one, it would directly impact readiness and operability, a concern that is shared by more than 1,000 retired officers.”
November 24, 2009 – Federal District Court Judge Virginia Philips denies the Obama Justice Department’s motion to stay proceedings and block the Log Cabin Republicans’ challenge to DADT.
December 16, 2009 – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has instructed her fellow Democrats to not take up any “controversial” legislation unless the Senate acts on it first. This included a repeal of DADT.
January 14, 2010 – Advisers to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen advise him to push for a delay in the start of the repeal of DADT, suggesting that the Pentagon should wait until late summer 2011 to send a proposed replacement law to Congress expecting that a vote on DADT repeal would not happen until 2012.
January 27, 2010 – In his State of the Union Address, President Obama stated: “This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It’s the right thing to do.”
February 2, 2010 – Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, both Defense Secretary Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen stated that they supported the repeal of DADT. Senator John McCain stated his support of retaining DADT by stating: “‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ has been an imperfect but effective policy, and at this moment, when we’re asking more of our military than at any time in recent memory, we should not repeal this law.”
February 22, 2010 – White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs again refused to say whether the White House supports DADT repeal in 2010.
February 23, 2010 – Army Secretary John McHugh, Army Chief of Staff George Casey and Air Force Chief of Staff Norman Schwartz testify before congressional committees that they are ready and willing to work within the framework for repeal of DADT.
March 2, 2010 – As a result of the President’s State of the Union Address, Defense Secretary Gates sends a memo ordering a comprehensive review for the repeal of DADT. He starts a working group to conduct the review and “examine the issues associated with repeal of the law should it occur and will include an implementation plan that addresses the impacts, if any, on the Department.” The report is due by December 1, 2010.
March 3, 2010 – Versions of Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which include the repeal of DADT, are introduced to the Armed Services Committees of both chambers of Congress.
March 15, 2010 – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated that she doesn’t want the House to move on banning DADT until the DOD finishes their review of the implications of banning DADT. She then asked the Pentagon to speed up their review process and that she supports a moratorium on discharges.
March 18, 2010 – Lt. Dan Choi and Cpt. Jim Pietrangelo handcuff themselves to the White House fence to protest DADT. Both plead not guilty.
April 15, 2010 – House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer stated that the House has no plans to include DADT repeal in the Defense Authorization Bill for 2011.
April 19, 2010 – Politico reported that the White House is quietly pressu
ring Congress to delay a vote on DADT until after the midterm elections.
April 19, 2010 – While at a fundraiser for Sen. Barbara Boxer, President Obama is interrupted by hecklers demanding the repeal of DADT be included in the Defense Authorization Bill.
April 21, 2010 – White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs admitted that the President opposes repeal of DADT before completion of the Pentagon’s study, which is not scheduled to be completed until December 2010.
May 2, 2010 – Former Democratic Chairman Howard Dean joins a protest in front of the White House supporting the repeal of DADT.
May 19, 2010 – House Armed Services Committee Chair Ike Skelton confirmed that DADT repeal will not be included in the 2011 Defense Authorization Bill. Sen. Carl Levin says that he will push forward with including repeal language in the Senate version of the bill, but only if he can get the votes in Committee during markup next week.
May 25, 2010 – Rep. Susan Collins becomes the first Senate Republican to support DADT repeal.
May 27, 2010 – Congressman Patrick Murphy introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2011 that would repeal the relevant sections of DADT sixty days after a study by the U.S. Department of Defense is completed. The House passes the amendment.
June 2, 2010 – Rep. Duncan Hunter believes the debate on DADT is just another distraction from real military threats and other priorities.
June 9, 2010 – The Pentagon restates that investigations and discharges of gay and lesbian personnel will continue under President Obama while awaiting DADT repeal.
July 9, 2010 – The Pentagon sends out a confidential survey to 400,000 active-duty and reserve service members to determine their views on the impact of repealing DADT.
July 14, 2010 – The charges against Lt. Dan Choi and Cpt. Jim Pietrangelo for their actions in March and April on the White House fence are dropped.
August 11, 2010 – Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach sues to block his DADT discharge, claiming that his case should be decided under the 2008 Witt Standard. The Witt Standard says that the burden of proof is upon the military to show that the gay or lesbian service member is a hazard to good order and discipline and that discharge is contingent upon meeting this burden of proof.
September 9, 2010 – U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips rules that the prohibition on gay service members serving openly is unconstitutional because it violates the First and Fifth Amendment rights of gays and lesbians.
September 20, 2010 – Lady Gaga staged a rally in Portland, Maine, in support of DADT repeal, calling on her fans to call Maine Republican Senators Snowe and Collins and urge them both to vote for the National Defense Authorization Act with DADT repeal language attached. Sen. Snowe refuses to vote for repeal prior to the Pentagon study’s completion.
September 21, 2010 – Senate Democrats fail to break the Republican filibuster of the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes DADT repeal. The filibuster is led by Senator John McCain.
September 24, 2010 – Congressman Jared Polis sends a letter to President Obama asking him to stop appealing Judge Phillip’s ruling and allow DADT to end.
October 12, 2010 – The injunction issued by Judge Phillips ends the military’s ban on openly gay troops serving in the military.
October 13, 2010 – White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs states that the Justice Department will continue to appeal Judge Phillip’s ruling that DADT is unconstitutional, saying that it’s the process that is important.
October 17, 2010 – The DOJ files a request for a stay of Judge Phillips’ injunction against the DOD citing concerns over religious objections and whether barracks should be segregated.
October 19, 2010 – Judge Virginia Phillips denies the DOJ’s request for a stay of injunction in Log Cabin Republicans vs. United States of America, effectively rendering DADT un-enforceable.
October 19, 2010 – The Pentagon informs military recruiters that they must abide by Judge Phillips’ court ruling, which overturned DADT and accept gay applicants; however, recruiters must inform potential recruits that the policy could be reinstated at any moment.
October 20, 2010 – The Obama administration files a request with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stay Judge Phillips’ lower court injunction banning enforcement of DADT. The administration believes that the policy should be repealed through Congress.
October 21, 2010 – A three judge federal appeals panel temporarily blocks Judge Phillips’ injunction, finding in favor of the Obama DOJ.
October 21, 2010 – Defense Secretary Robert Gates releases guidance wherein only a service secretary can authorize a DADT discharge.
October 28, 2010 – The Pentagon study is leaked to the press. The results are favorable to repeal of DADT.
November 2, 2010 – The appeals court indefinitely extends the stay on Judge Phillips’ ruling and orders the administration to continue to enforce DADT until the appeal is heard.
November 5, 2010 – The legal team for Log Cabin Republicans files an appeal with U.S. Supreme Court over the stay of Judge Phillips’ injunction granted by the 9th Circuit Court.
November 8, 2010 – After the 2010 congressional elections, Defense Secretary Gates tells reporters: “I would like to see the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ but I’m not sure what the prospects for that are, and we’ll just have to see.”
November 10, 2010 – White House Communications Director, Dan Pfeiffer, says that DADT repeal is “at least worth a shot” in the lame-duck session of Congress.
November 12, 2010 – The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to lift the stay of Judge Phillips’ injunction.
Nov. 17, 2010 – A CNN poll shows that a growing majority of Americans, 72%, support repeal of DADT, up from 67% in September.
November 18, 2010 – Sen. Joe Lieberman states that he has the 60 Senate votes needed to end a filibuster to permit a vote on repealing DADT. This includes 2 Republicans, Senators Susan Collins and Dick Lugar, provided the Republicans get the additional debate time they want.
November 30, 2010 – At a Pentagon news conference, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, release the recommendations of the working group. Gates recommends that the DADT be repealed.
December 2, 2010 – Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense, told the Senate Armed Services Committee they wanted repeal to happen in 2010.
December 9, 2010 – Senate Repub-licans filibuster a vote on repealing the DADT as part of the defense reauthorization bill. Democrats in the House moved ahead with their own repeal and Sen. Joe Lieberman is optimistic that the House vote will give repeal new momentum in the Senate.
December 15, 2010 – House members again approved a bill to repeal DADT. Delivery renewed momentum to end the ban on gays in the military ahead of a possible Senate vote.
December 18, 2010 – The Senate voted to repeal DADT, sending to President Obama a bill ending the 17-year ban on gays serving openly in the military.
December 22, 2010 – President Obama signed the bill allowing for repeal of DADT. However, repeal has yet to be certified, and DADT remains the law as the new provisions are phased into effect.
May 11, 2011 – Three Republican anti-gay amendments are voted into the House National Defense Authorization Amendment. The first would expand DADT repeal certification to include the service chiefs. The second would prohibit Defense Department facilities from being used in same-sex wedding ceremonies in states where it is legal. The amendments pass in the House.
June 27, 2011 – The Pentagon confirms that it is still investigating and discharging gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members.
July 6, 2011 – A federal appeals court barred further enforcement of the U.S. military’s ban on openly gay service members.