DADT is Repealed – Almost

What does it really mean for gays in the military?

On Dec. 18, the Senate voted to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a move that will essentially end a 17-year law – the only law in this country – that punishes people for being gay. President Obama says he will sign the new legislation into law, which will put an official end to DADT – a law that discharged more than 14,000 gay and lesbian service members simply because of sexual orientation. There are an estimated 66,000 gays and lesbians serving in active duty today, according to the HRC.

HRC President Joe Solmonese says the decision already has an enormous impact on gay rights in the United States. “Today, America lived up to its highest ideals of freedom and equality,” he said. “Congress recognized that all men and women have the right to openly serve their country.”

But what does the repeal really mean for gays and lesbians serving in all branches of the U.S. military today? It’s not over yet. DADT will only officially be repealed once the president signs the legislation – which is expected to happen swiftly – and when the secretary of defense and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff implement the policies of the repeal.

For gay and lesbian service members, this means they can still be discharged on the basis of sexual orientation until an additional 60 days pass after DADT’s repeal is signed into law.

HRC created a complete outline of the next steps – including what’s next for the president and pentagon – and why DADT is technically still being used to discharge anyone who admits to being gay or lesbian.

A video from the Senate: