How the Pentagon Rewrote DADT

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


When the Pentagon announced last week that it will relax its “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” rules on gays in the military, the move was applauded by gay rights advocates as a first step toward repealing the policy altogether. Mother Jones has obtained a copy of the revised rules which shows exactly how the policy has been tweaked.

The new rules, announced last week by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, are intended to make it more difficult for military service members to be discharged for being gay. Gates mentioned some of the key revisions to the rules, such as greater restrictions on the evidence that can be used to dismiss gay service members. Only high-ranking officers will have the authority to launch investigations or decide that a discharge is necessary.

The document provides more detail about the changes, including revisions that Gates didn’t focus on in his announcement. For example, the new policy rewrites the definition of “homosexual conduct” that constitutes grounds for dismissal. Previously, the military had used a broad definition which included the “propensity or intent” to engage in “homosexual acts.” The new policy defines such conduct more narrowly, describing the grounds for misconduct as “engaging in, attempting to engage in, or soliciting another to engage in a homosexual act or acts, a statement by a Service member that he or she is a homosexual or bisexual, or words to that effect, or marriage or attempted marriage to a person known to be of the same biological sex.” While the terms haven’t been radically overhauled, the narrower definition could make it more difficult for investigations to be initiated.

Other points of interest: the Pentagon now requires that “a preponderance” of evidence be provided to warrant a dismissal. Investigators can no longer use a service member’s decision “not to discuss the matter” against him or her. And investigators are also now expected to consider the source of evidence against a service member and the circumstances in which it’s received. For instance, a source may be considered unreliable if he or she has a “prior history of conflict” with target of the investigation or “a motive to seek revenge against or cause personal or professional harm” to the service member in question.

To read the full text of the new DADT policy—with all the revisions tracked and marked in red—click here.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate