"Don't ask, don't tell": the US law conditions for homosexuals in the army

President Barack Obama signed in December 2010 the repeal of this law.

Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

On September 20, 2011, the United States federal government repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," a law that allowed homosexuals to serve in the military. only if they kept their sexual orientation a secret.

“Starting today, patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are to serve the country they love,” said President Barack Obama.

"I compromise to remove all barriers that prevent Americans from serving their country and rising to the highest level of responsibility that their abilities and talents allow,” said US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta

Service members discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" were allowed to re-enlist.

After winning the 1992 presidential election, Bill Clinton announced his intention to end the long-standing military ban on homosexuals serving in the US armed forces. The move encountered opposition, particularly from top military leaders and key members of Congress.

In a compromise, Clinton won support for a measure that would allow gay servicemen to remain in the military if they did not openly declare their sexual orientation. The policy became known as "Don't ask, don't tell."

Gay rights groups denounced the law and described its repeal as a milestone in the fight against discrimination against homosexual soldiers.

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