Gays And Lesbians At War: Military Service In Iraq And Afghanistan Under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

September 15, 2004

The US military had a long history of deploying known lesbian, gay and bisexual service members during wartime, only to fire them after the cessation of conflict. The Palm Center sought to document and publicize this trend, which cast doubt on the notion that LGB troops undermine unit cohesion. If LGB troops undermined cohesion, the last thing the military would want to do is deploy them during wartime. In 2004, we published this study showing that “don’t ask, don’t tell” itself, not the presence of LGB troops, undermined cohesion in military units serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2005, we informed the media about a regulation halting the discharge of gay soldiers in units about to be mobilized. And in 2007, we published this research note about the military’s pattern of reducing discharges during wartime.