"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is a US military policy, begun in 1993, stating gay, lesbian and bisexual soldiers may serve in the Armed Forces so long as they refrain from same-sex canoodling, and never mention -- to anyone -- that they aren't straight.
But how did this crazy, inconsistent, wasteful policy get put in place in the first place?
The idea was to stop putting recruits -- people who hadn't yet joined the military, but wanted to for some reason -- through any sort of gay test, even if that test was just the single question, "Are you a queerbo?"
Actual gay testing methods used by the military may differ.
In 1994, Secretary of Defense Les Aspin told the Senate Committee on Armed Services, "The previous policy was, ask, do not tell, investigate. The [new] policy is, do not ask, do not tell, do not investigate." Aspin was testifying because some critics of the Clinton policy claimed it had deliberately been made so confusing that cases would be taken to court and, according to the people against gays serving in the military, any ban on gay soldiers' service would be ruled unconstitutional. Yes, they admitted they believed their own side was against the U.S. Constitution, but they just really hated the idea of gay people wearing uniforms or something. Maybe they were worried about future uniform designs becoming too fashionable.
They were right about at least one thing: The policy confused a lot of people, even Senators, who are generally a pretty bright bunch. (Although there are exceptions.)
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Investigate" would've been a great compromise, if it had been implemented as described.
The fairness of how DADT has been implemented is clear from Defense Department statistics: As of 2009, while 71% of American soldiers are white, only 55% of soldiers discharged under DADT are white. Similarly, only 55% of soldiers discharged for being homosexual or bisexual are men, even though male soldiers make up fully 85% of the U.S. armed forces. For those of you whose eyes glaze over anytime there's more than one number in a sentence, that means that women are three times as likely as men to get witch-hunted out of the military, and that black, brown, yellow and red soldiers are one and a half times as likely to face the same fate, compared to their white counterparts. Way to defend our freedom, military leaders!
[Gates announcement; two soldiers under DADT investigation restored to their units]