Don't Ask Don't Tell Repeal: Cocktail Chatter

Jeanne Sager

Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal
Flickr photo by theslowlane
Every week in cocktail chatter, we tell you what you need to know to sound like an expert at this weekend's play date, dinner party, or post office meeting.

This week's cheat sheet: the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

What it is: A law passed in 1993 under President Bill Clinton, Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) was supposed to be a compromise between an outright ban on gays and lesbians in the military and full LGBT equality.

The military could no longer ask about a person's sexual orientation during enlistment, but if a serviceman or woman's commanding officer learned they were gay, the law allowed for them to be immediately dismissed.

The process to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell is currently in Congress.

Terms to Know:

Senate Armed Services Committee: This committee of the Senate voted16-12 to approve language in a military policy bill that would repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. They then voted 18-10 to send the bill on to the full Senate.

House Vote: Representatives in the U.S. House voted 234 to 194 to approve the repeal, but they still have to vote on the entire defense bill before Don't Ask Don't Tell's removal gets the full House stamp of approval.

Fighter Jet Engine Program: Added by the House into the defense bill, this is something Defense Secretary Robert Gates doesn't think is necessary -- if it gets to the White House, Gates could push President Obama to veto the whole bill to kill the program.

Pentagon Study: Even if the repeal is passed and signed by the president, it won't go into effect until the Petagon has completed a study determining whether lifting the ban on gays in the military could adversely affect military readiness. That's not due until December.

Phrases to Drop:

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell costs the taxpayers money. A 2006 Blue Ribbon Commission Report sponsored by the University of California estimated the cost is at least $363 million."

"The repeal is coming up now because the Democrats are afraid the Republicans will take power in November, and they'll never be able to pass it."

"The troops will have a say -- about 70,000 of them are getting surveys to fill out."

Are you following this key piece of legislation?

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