"Don't Ask, Don't Tell

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"DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL, Don't Pursue" refers to the policy, begun in 1993, regarding lesbians and gay men in the U.S. military. Service personnel may be discharged for homosexual conduct but not simply for being gay. Therefore, military commanders do not ask military personnel about their sexual orientations or begin an investigation except upon the receipt of "credible information" of homosexual conduct. If a person acknowledges his or her homosexuality publicly, military commanders presume that he or she intends to engage in homosexual conduct. The policy was a compromise between President Bill Clinton, who sought to repeal the military's ban on gay personnel, and the opponents of that repeal in Congress and among the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Professor Charles Moskos of Northwestern University developed the policy's framework, and Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia brokered the compromise. According to those monitoring its implementation, the policy has failed to meet Clinton's goals of decreasing discharges for homosexuality and reducing harassment of lesbian and gay military personnel.


Frank, Nathaniel. "What's Love Got to Do with It? The Real Story of Military Sociology and 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'" Lingua Franca (October 2000): 71–81.

Halley, Janet E. Don't: A Reader's Guide to the Military's Anti-Gay Policy. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1999.

Shawver, Lois. And the Flag Was Still There: Straight People, Gay People, and Sexuality in the U.S. Military. New York: Haworth Press, 1995.

Cynthia R.Poe

See alsoDiscrimination: Sexual Orientation ; Gay and Lesbian Movement ; Military Service and Minorities: Homosexuals .

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"Don't Ask, Don't Tell