Gary S. Patton, DOD:
‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is Repealed
September 21, 2011
law is passed, the studies completed, the findings certified and the
service member training accomplished. Today, after years of debate and
months of preparation, the Defense Department starts on a new footing
with the repeal of the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that since
1993 has banned gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
“Statements about sexual orientation will no longer be a bar to
enlisting in the military or a cause for dismissal,” said Army Maj. Gen.
Gary S. Patton, chief of staff for the Pentagon’s repeal implementation
In addition, former service members separated from the military under
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell based solely on their sexual orientation will be
eligible to reapply to return to military service. Patton said their
applications will be evaluated using the same standards as all other
candidates, and decisions will be based on needs of the service.
As these long-anticipated changes take place, Patton said he expects the
repeal implementation to stay on track because of the pre-repeal
training across the force. In addition, many other existing policies
considered “sexual-orientation neutral” remain in place.
Duty assignments won’t be affected, and living and working conditions
won’t change, Patton said. Service members won’t be separated or
segregated based on sexual orientation, and will continue to share
billeting and berthing as in the past.
With repeal, benefits will remain as they are. Service members will be
able to designate whomever they want to receive member-designated
benefits such as Serviceman’s Group Life Insurance, he said. Other
benefits, such as basic allowance for housing, are limited by law and
statute to cover only opposite-sex spouses and can’t be extended to
same-sex partners, Patton said.
However, the Defense Department is studying the possible extension of
other benefits where eligibility is not specifically defined by law,
such as use of military morale, welfare and recreation facilities to
same-sex partners. “We have not arrived at a decision on that,” Patton
said. “The department continues to explore that possibility,
Although the vast majority of military members and their families
surveyed before the repeal indicated they had no issues with the repeal,
Patton said he recognizes that some may. To those, he has a message: “We
are not trying to change your beliefs. You have your freedom to exercise
your beliefs and your freedom of speech.”
But with that, he said, “you have to maintain your dignity and respect
No new policy will allow anyone who disagrees with the repeal to break
their contractual obligations. Anyone who has complaints or issues
associated with the repeal should take them to a commander or inspector
general, Patton said. Sexual orientation issues will not be addressed by
equal opportunity channels in the way gender, race and religion issues
With the repeal in effect, Patton said he expects military members will
honor it. “The repeal is a law,” he said. “The military follows the law
and we are executing this as part of our mission.”
A key in carrying out the mission, he said, is a principle emphasized
during mandatory pre-repeal training throughout the force that the
military has embraced throughout its history.
“The training focused on the changes in policy, that sexual orientation
is not a reason for a person to be denied enlistment in the service or
separated from the service. And that we continue to treat all service
members with dignity and respect,” Patton said.
Part of that respect, he said, is to allow all service members to live
honest lives. “During Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, gay and lesbian service
members were required by law to withhold their sexual orientation, and
in some cases, they potentially violated their own personal integrity,”
Patton said. “Upon repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, they won’t be placed
in that predicament.”
As a result, the repeal “will strengthen the military,” he said. “It
will continue to allow us to keep gay and lesbian service members in the
military, and we will be a better military for it.”