On This Day In 1993, Bill Clinton Announced 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

20 Years Ago Today, Bill Clinton Announced 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

President Bill Clinton announced the military's policy on gay service members on July 19, 1993 -- 20 years ago today. The policy, known as "don't ask, don't tell," allowed closeted members of the military to serve, while prohibiting those in the military who were openly gay to serve. Prior to "don't ask, don't tell," there had been an outright ban on gays in the military.

"It is not a perfect solution," Clinton said as he announced the policy. "It is not identical with some of my own goals. And it certainly will not please everyone, perhaps not anyone, and clearly not those who hold the most adamant opinions on either side of this issue."

Still, Clinton called DADT "a major step forward."

As the nation's attitudes about homosexuality shifted, a movement grew to repeal "don't ask, don't tell." In 2010, Clinton said he regretted the policy.

Later that year, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed a measure repealing DADT.

"I hope those ... who've been discharged under this discriminatory policy will seek to re-enlist once the repeal is implemented," Obama said as he signed the bill into law.

"Don't ask, don't tell," officially ended in September 2011, when the repeal took effect.

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