February 2nd, 2010
01:55 PM ET
4 years ago

CNN Fact Check: 'Don't ask, don't tell' discharges

(CNN) – More than 13,000 gay and lesbian service members have been discharged under the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. President Bill Clinton tried to lift the military's ban on gays altogether in 1993, but settled for the "don't ask, don't tell" compromise amid opposition from Congress and the military. Now, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is launching a yearlong study on how to phase out the policy.

Amid the ongoing debate over its effectiveness, Rep. Jim Moran, D-Virginia, said that the number of troops discharged under "don't ask, don't tell" in 2009 was roughly one-third the number dismissed in 2001. "This shows that during wartime, DADT is not being pursued aggressively because one's orientation has nothing to do with their ability to fight," he said in a written statement.

Fact Check: Have discharges related to "don't ask, don't tell" declined significantly since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
– Just before the war in Afghanistan began, the annual number of discharges peaked at 1,227 in 2001, according to Defense Department statistics. The number had topped 1,000 every year prior to that, dating back to 1998.
– After the war in Afghanistan began, those same statistics show the number fell to 885 in 2002.
– Pentagon figures show the discharges dropped to 770 in 2003, the year the Iraq war began. The numbers remained in the 600-700 range every year until 2008, and dropped to 428 in 2009.

Get the bottom line after the jump:

Bottom line: "Don't ask, don't tell" discharges noticeably declined after the Afghan and Iraq wars began. Whether the decline was directly tied gay and lesbian troops' "ability to fight" or simply changing times and a decline in the will to enforce the law is difficult, if not impossible, to determine.

– CNN Supervising Producer Adam Levine contributed to this fact check.


Filed under: Don't Ask Don't Tell
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. sensible Cape coral FL

    If "Don't ask: Don't tell" is repealed the generals will stop complaining about not having enough troops. Ha HA Ha That day will never come.

    February 2, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  2. Kim Nugent

    "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is a reasonable policy. There is no reason anyone in any career area should announce or flaunt their sexual preference. The workplace is not a place for sexuality on any level. To that end to which most of us agree, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" should be extended as a law to all areas of the workplace in the US.

    February 2, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  3. Scottish Mama

    I found it amusing when Mr. Perkins was on today.
    It is a proven fact Roman military had relationships with each other. They believed that a man that was intimately involved with each other would fight harder together and for each other.
    Proof in the puddin' Mr. Perkins.

    February 2, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  4. gt

    this is unbeleiveabe.... no wonder the democrats are out of touch with america,,,, ... just another hole in the dike.....obama and his imoral agenda,, i dont think this is change we wanted ,, get the ecomony going stop all the social agenda,,,

    February 2, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    Think of it this way my friendly neighborhood conservative bigots: with the way your chickenhawk GOP and conservative masters like to warmonger, that's 13,000 homosexuals you missed an opportunity to get dead, isn't it?

    February 2, 2010 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  6. Dave

    That is just ONE assumption based on the data. Nothing about it is correct or incorrect, it is merely one interpretation of the data.

    The bottom line is: why don't the politicians stay the heck out of it and let the military decide what is best for the military?

    February 2, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  7. donttreadonme

    This also was being used as a method to get out of an obligation of service. No one can say how many of these discharges where actually gay. And out of the folks that where gay how many wanted to get out of the military.

    February 2, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  8. Sorensen

    How come the silly, little bureaucrats need 1-3 years to get rid of
    this stupid, embarrassing, uneducated, banana-republic piece of
    "law"?
    Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen are both highly intelligent
    people. Could they not do something effective about this like now!
    The President is for it!
    We should see a list of the mentally derailed people who want to keep
    this.
    The rest of the world think we are nuts. Indeed.

    February 2, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  9. Marc

    Rep. Jim Moran, D-Virginia, said "This shows that during wartime, DADT is not being pursued aggressively because one's orientation has nothing to do with their ability to fight".
    And it's true, isn't?
    Bible thumpers screaming 'NNNOOOOOOOO!!!!!!' at the top of their lungs capacity in 3...2...1...

    February 2, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  10. David S.

    13,000 . So basically more than enough trained men and women to make up an entire division. And their fellow uniformed personnell have to stay in the military and do more combat zone deployments under the stop loss policy because there is a shortage of trained personell.

    ... And we spend additional millions on security contractors in these same combat zones to supplement the military. I wonder if these security contracting companies we use to supplement our military have a "don't ask don't tell policy"

    ... And we now have military recruiters who are willing to do anything to get people into uniform including teaching potential recruits how to cheat the drug testing, because there is pressure on recruiters to get more people into the military.

    ... And yet we kicked out 13,000 people.

    Hmmm.

    February 2, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |