Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell … Gone

The federal government has taken a step toward ending institutionalized homophobia with the expiration of the military’s  “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

President Barack Obama last December signed legislation to repeal the policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which had been passed by Congress and signed into law in 1993 under then-President Bill Clinton. The ban officially ended on Tuesday, with the Pentagon saying it is prepared for this new era in the American armed forces.

The law, and the deep-seated homophobia it represents, meant that gay men and women could serve in the military only if they kept their sexual orientation a secret.

More than 14,500 U.S. service members were thrown out of the military since the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy went into effect in 1993, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a group opposed to the ban.

Military recruiters are now accepting enlistment applications from openly gay people.