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7.2: Military Service

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    68365
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    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): The military ban on gay and lesbian people first gained nation- al attention in 1975 with Time magazine’s cover story on discharged Air Force Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, the magazine’s first cover story of an openly LGBTQ person. Challenges to the ban on military service continued through the 1980s and 1990s with prominent cases such as Miriam Ben-Shalom’s fourteen-year court battle with the military, and Army Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer successful challenge of her dismissal after 25 years of service.

    In 1982, the military implemented Directive 1332.14, which changed homosexuality from a possible disqualification for military service to a mandatory one. Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton promised to overturn the military ban; however, when elected, he signed a compromise “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy that allowed gay and lesbian people to serve in the military as long as they didn’t come out publicly. Although the policy was intended to allow greater participation of gay and lesbian people in the military, the discharges continued at a high rate.

    Through a combination of legal challenges, political pressure, and publicity, groups supporting LGBTQ service members were able to introduce a bill to Congress in 2006 to repeal DADT. Under pressure from a federal court decision that DADT was unconstitutional, a federal repeal of DADT was signed into law in 2010. However, the military continued upholding DADT policies until 2011 when a federal court finally ordered it to cease.

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