Unfriendly Fire Research Portal

4. What Damage is Caused by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”?

Calls to end "don't ask, don't tell" have rested largely on the belief that the policy is both unnecessary and unfair. Yet there is less consensus on whether it is actually harmful to the military, and therefore less of a sense of urgency about the need to end the policy. Indeed, some defenders of the current policy say "don't ask, don't tell" is "working" and that there is no compelling reason to change it, particularly while the nation is engaged in two wars.

In fact, the policy has incurred a litany of costs, many that go unnoticed. Far from protecting military readiness, the policy has harmed it, sacrificing badly needed personnel that is replaced with less qualified talent; undermining cohesion, integrity, and trust through forced dishonesty; hurting the morale of gay troops by limiting their access to support services; wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars; invading the privacy of all service members—gay and non-gay alike—by casting a cloud of suspicion and uncertainty over the intimate lives of everyone in the armed forces; and damaging the military's reputation, making it harder to recruit the best and brightest America has to offer.

Click here to read a thirteen-page report, "DADT: Detailing the Damage," that chronicles the harms wrought by "don't ask, don't tell."

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