Skip to Main Content

Don't Ask. Don't Tell. Don't Pursue.

This guide contains primary materials on the U.S. military’s policy on sexual orientation, from World War I to 2013.

Timelines and Charts

– President Obama consistently called for an end to DADT.

– By a vote of 234 to 194 [on May 27, 2010], the House of Representatives adopted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would lead to the repeal of DADT in early 2011.

– The Senate Armed Servcies Committee (SASC) added an identical provision in the bill it reported to the Senate the same day.

– Senate John McCain (R-AZ) filibustered the entire NDAA, which included DADT repeal, on September 21, 2010, and again on December 9, 2010.

– Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense, told the SASC on December 2, 2010 that they wanted repeal to happen [in 2010].

– On December 15, 2010, the House passed a stand-alone DADT bill [H.R. 2965 ~ the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010], 250-175. This bill refleted the language of the repeal provision in the NDAA.

– On December 18, 2010, the Senate passed the House’s stand-alone DADT bill, 65-31.

– President Obama signed the [Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010] on December 22, 2010. However, repeal [had] yet to be certified [by the President, Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff], and DADT [remained] the law.

Annotated Select Bibliography

The purpose of this bibliography is two-fold:
(1) To collect and analyze the monographic and periodical literature that contains the text or provides a significant analysis or synthesis of primary sources — statutes, regulations, directives, court opinions, — relating to the issue of gay people in the armed forces; and

(2) To list and annotate publications issued or commissioned by the United States Department of Defense and its service branches related to the issues of gay people in the armed forces.

I.  Monographs

Belkin, Aaron and Geoffrey Bateman, Editors
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Debating the Gay Ban in the Military. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc., 2003
Contents include:
Introduction, by Aaron Belkin and Geoffrey BatemanHistory Repeating Itself: A Historical Overview of Gay Men and Lesbians in the Military Before “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” by Timothy Haggerty Does the Gay Ban Preserve Soldiers’ Privacy? Are Foreign Military Experiences Relevant to the United States?  What Does “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Cost?
Openly Gay Service Members Tell Their Stories: Steve May and Rob Nunn
What Have We Learned? The Future of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
Appendix: The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Law
Selected Bibliography; The Contributors; Index; About the Book

Berube, Allan
Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War Two. New York, NY: Free Press, 1990

Boushka, Bill
Do Ask, Do Tell: A Gay Conservative Lashes Back. Minneapolis. MN: High Productivity Publishing, 1997

Collins, Allyson
Uniform Discrimination: The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy Of The U.S. Military. NY: Human Rights Watch, 2003

Davis, Major Jeffrey S.
Military Policy Toward Homosexuals: Scientific, Historic and Legal Perspectives. LL.M. Thesis, Army JAG School, 1990

Embser-Herbert, Melissa Sheridan
The U.S. Military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy: A Reference Handbook. Westport, Conn. : Praeger Security International, 2007

Eskridge, William N., Jr.
Gaylaw Challenging the Apartheid of the Closet. Cambridge, MA Harvard University Press, 1999

Frank, Nathaniel
Unfriendly Fire: How The Gay Ban Undermines The Military And Weakens America. NY: Thomas Dunne Books, 2009

Fielding, Ian Robert
Assessing Value Argument: The United States Military’s Policy of Discriminating on the Basis of Sexual Orientation (Military Policy, Homosexual). Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 1992
Gays: In or Out?: The U.S. Military and Homosexuals: A Sourcebook. Washington, DC: Brassey’s (US), 1993
First work originally published: Military Necessity and Homosexuality by Ronald D. Ray, 1st ed., Louisville, KY: First Principles, 1993.  Second work originally published: Defense Force Management: DoD’s Policy on Homosexuality by the United States General Accounting Office, Washington, DC: The Office, 1992.

Halley, Janet E.
Don’t: A Reader’s Guide to the Military’s Anti-Gay Policy. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999.
Homosexuality and the Military: A Sourcebook of Official, Uncensored U.S. Government Documents. Upland, PA: Diane Publishing, 1993
Contents include: 1) DoD’s Policy on Homosexuality; a report by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) (June 1992); 2) The Crittenden Report; report of the board appointed to prepare and submit recommendations to the Secretary of the Navy for the revision of policies, procedures and directives dealing with homosexuals (21 Dec. 1956 – 15 March 1957); 3) Homosexuality and Personnel Security (Sept. 1991); and 4) A Report to the Human Rights Campaign Fund on Public Attitudes toward Homosexuals and their Place in the Military (April 18, 1991).

Lacy, Bill F.
The Homosexual in Uniform. Maxwell Air Force Base, AL: Air University, 1976

McPeak, Merrill A.
Selected Works, 1990-1994. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama:  Air University Press, 1995
This book contains two documents that pertain to the issues of gays in the military: 1) Chapter 22 is entitled “Transition Challenges” and it is the text of “Memorandum for the President-Elect, 21 December 1992.” In this memorandum, General McPeak outlines his three step phased approach to the question of gays in the Air Force:  Step 1, rescind the ban; step 2, deal with conduct; step 3, study the impact of allowing service by declared homosexuals. 2) Chapter 30 is entitled “Lifting the Ban on Homosexuals in the Military” and it contains an excerpt from “Hearings before the House Military Forces and Personnel Subcommittee of the Committee on Armed Services, Washington, D.C. 21 July 1993”. A note to the chapter reads,

“During the 1992 election campaign, candidate Clinton promised to end the practice of excluding declared homosexuals from military service.  Following the election, the service chiefs advised that they could stop asking about homosexual orientation or previous behavior on entry forms.  They also concurred in ending investigations based on less-than-substantial evidence of homosexual behavior.  On the other hand, the chiefs advised against allowing open homosexuality in the ranks.  After six months of national debate, President Clinton announced what he called ‘an honorable compromise’ that receded to the chiefs’ position in all essential respects.  This became the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue” policy.”

National Defense Research Institute (RAND Corporation)
Sexual Orientation and U.S. Military Personnel Policy: Options and Assessment. Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 1993

Report on Homosexuality with Particular Emphasis on the Problem in Governmental Agencies. Formulated by the Committee on Cooperation with Governmental (Federal) Agencies of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry. Topeka, KS: Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, 1955

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Military Policy Fact Sheet. Washington, DC: NGLTF, 1993

Includes attachments: Countering military arguments against gay and lesbian service members (4 p.); Policy on homosexuality, Department of Defense (1 p.); How much does discrimination in the Armed Services cost? (2 p.); and copies of several newspaper editorials.

Office of the Inspector General, Department of the Defense
Military Environment with Respect to the Homosexual Conduct Policy. Department of Defense, Report D-2000-101, March 16, 2000.

Press Release: “Secretary Cohen Calls for Action Plan to Reduce Harassment”, March 24, 2000.

Sarbin, Theodore R.; and Karols, Kenneth E. (Prepared by:)
Nonconforming Sexual Orientations and Military Suitability. [Monterey, CA?]: Defense Personnel Security Research and Education Center, 1988

Cover letter and press release by Congressman Gerry E. Studds and three internal Defense Department memoranda attached.

Sheng, Jeff
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Los Angeles, CA: Jeff Sheng Studios 2010

Shilts, Randy
Conduct Unbecoming:  Gays & Lesbians in the U.S. Military (CD-ROM). San Francisco, CA:  ApolloMedia, 1995

This product offers a multimedia presentation of Randy Shilts’s landmark 1994 book of the same title.  The CD-ROM includes the full text of the book, enhanced by music, audio and video clips.  The reader can see and hear the actors, for example Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer, speak in their own voices.  The text of the book is key word and phrase computer searchable. The CD-ROM adds 163 pages in a documents section; the documents, often excerpted, include:  statements (Elzie, Panicia, Cammermeyer, others) and letters to the Armed Services Committee; prepared statement of Col. Cammermeyer; Crittendon Report notes; Text of Senate Bill 1337 (1993), “Policy Concerning Homosexuality in the Armed Forces”; the DoD policy; a senate document, dated September 28, 1850 entitled “Maintain Flogging in the Navy”; the Sarbin & Karols PERSEREC Report (PERS-TN-890992) [described below]; the “Rand Report”, “Sexual Orientation and U.S. Military Personnel Policy Options and Assessment [described below]; GAO report [described below]; The Military by Rhonda R. Ribera; Armed Services — Equality Within; 13 FR 4313, Establishing the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Service, July 26, 1948. Harry S. Truman; Ensign Karen Stupski’s last evaluation; letter to Jean Appelby Jackson, Chair Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service from members of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues; Teletype surveillance reports of the ONI investigation on Tom Dooley.

Stanford Law School
When “Don’t ask, don’t tell” becomes “Do ask, do tell” : a military perspective on
workplace equality and what to do in the interim. Stanford, CA: Stanford Law School, 2010.

Steffan, Joseph
Gays and the Military: Joseph Steffan versus the United States. Marc Wolinsky and Kenneth Sherrill, editors, Princeton, NJ: University Press, 1993

Selected records and judgment in the case of Joseph C. Steffan v. Richard B. Cheney, Secretary of Defense, heard by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Symons, Johnny
Ask Not (Video). Berkeley, CA.: Persistent Visions; Harriman, NY: New Day Films, 2008

United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Armed Services
Testimony Relating To The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy: Hearing Before The Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate, One Hundred Eleventh Congress, second session, March 18, 2010. Washington: U.S. G.P.O.: For sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. G.P.O., 2010.

Review of the DOD Process for Assessing the Requirements to Implement Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, [H.A.S.C. No. 111-130], March 3, 2010, 111-2 Hearing. Washington: U.S. G.P.O.: For sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. G.P.O., 2010.

United States. Congress. House. Committee on Armed Services. Subcommittee on Military Personnel.
Don’t ask, Don’t Tell Review: Hearing Before The Military Personnel Subcommittee Of The Committee On Armed Services, House of Representatives, One Hundred Tenth Congress, second session, hearing held, July 23, 2008. Washington: U.S.G.P.O.: For sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S.G.P.O., 2009

United States. Dept. of Defense. Office of the Secretary of Defense. Military Working Group
Summary Report of the Military Working Group / Office of the Secretary of Defense. Washington, DC: Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1993

“Policy on Homosexual Conduct in the Armed Forces” inserted at end.

United States. General Accounting Office
Defense Force Management: Statistics related to DoD’s Policy on Homosexuality: Report to Congressional requesters. Washington, DC: U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), 1992

Supplemented by Defense Force Management: Statistics related to DoD’s policy on homosexuality [see next entry].

United States. General Accounting Office
Defense Force Management: Statistics related to DoD’s Policy on Homosexuality: Supplement to a report to Congressional requesters. Washington, DC: U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), 1992

United States.  General Accounting Office
Homosexuals in the Military:  Polices and Practices of Foreign Countries:  Report to the Honorable John W. Warner, U.S. Senate. Washington, DC: U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), 1993

This report was issued in response to Congressional interest in foreign comparative military polices dealing with gay people.  Twenty five countries were surveyed; of these countries eleven ban gays from military service; eleven specifically allow gays to serve in the armed forces; three countries’ laws are select on the issue.  Four countries — Canada, Germany, Israel and Sweden — were reviewed in more detail than the other countries and the appendixes to this book include detailed summaries of legislation in these countries.  Military officials from Canada, Israel and Sweden reported that the inclusion of gay people in the military was not a problem and has not adversely affected readiness, effectiveness or morale; German officials reported that problems associated with homosexual service are treated upon a case by case basis but that the inclusion of gays in general has not created significant problems.

Wells-Petry, Captain Melissa
The Power to Raise and Support Armies: The Homosexual Exclusion Policy in Perspective. LL.M. Thesis, Army JAG School, 1993

Williams, Colin J.
Homosexuals and the Military: A Study of Less than Honorable Discharge. New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1971

II. Articles

Brekhus, Elizabeth
“Is There a Safe Haven for Homosexuals in the Military?”
Journal of Law & Social Challenges, Fall 1998, Vol. 2, Pages 199-219

Kier, Elizabeth
“Homosexuals in the U.S. Military:  Open Integration and Combat Effectiveness”
International Security, Fall 1998, Vol. 23, No. 2 Pages 5-39

Robbins, Kalyani
“Framers’ Intent and Military Power: Has Supreme Court Deference to the Military Gone Too Far?”
Oregon Law Review, 1999, Vol. 78, No.3, page 767

The focus of this article is primarily on the problem of deference to the military in general, but it has a significant section on the DADT policy, which it uses as a main example of what can result from the deference problem, and as an area to be used for softening the doctrine.

Seamon, Aaron A.
“Comment: The Flawed Compromise of 10 USC 654 An Assessment of the Military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Policy”
Dayton Law Review, Winter 1999, Vol. 24, Page 319

Wells-Petry, Melissa
“Rule of Law or Reign of Terror Military Policy on Homosexuality as a Case Study in Statutory Construction Without the Statute”
Journal of Law & Social Challenges, Fall 1998, Vol. 2, Pages 1-56

Wilson, Bridget J.
“Trench Fighting Representing Gay Men, Lesbians and Bisexuals in the Military”
Journal of Law & Social Challenges, Fall 1998, Vol. 2, Pages 135-176

Yoshino, Kenji
“Assimmilationist Bias in Equal Protection The Visibility Presumption and the Case of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell'”
Yale Law Journal, December, 1998, Vol. 108, Page 485

Articles and Reports