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Naval Service of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Personnel

A Historical Policy Overview


The Department of Defense has made a lasting commitment to living the values we defend—to treating everyone equally—because we need to be a meritocracy. We have to focus relentlessly on our mission, which means the thing that matters most about a person is what they can contribute to national defense.    —Ashton Carter, 9 June 2015 (Secretary of Defense, 17 February 2015 – 19 January 2017) 

Chronology of Selected Policy Developments

  • 31 June 1951. Uniform Code of Military Justice supersedes service-specific disciplinary policies. Article 125 often applied in discharge proceedings of gay service members.

  • 16 January 1981. Department of Defense Directive 1332.14 establishes a policy of mandatory discharge for service members who attempt to engage in a homosexual act.

  • 19 July 1993. President Clinton announces the “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue” policy, which is later codified in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994.

  • 2 June 2000. President Clinton issues Proclamation No. 7316 for the first Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. 

  • 1 June 2009. President Obama issues Proclamation No. 8387 for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.

  • 2 March 2010. A memorandum from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates directs a comprehensive review on implementing a repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

  • 30 November 2010. Key working group findings on repeal implementation are released.

  • 22 December 2010. The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) Repeal Act becomes law. The Chief of Naval Operations during this time, Admiral Gary Roughead, led the Navy’s preparations for the change in policy.

  • September 2011. The DADT Repeal Act is fully implemented, allowing LGBT service members to serve openly.
  • June 2012. The Department of Defense begins observing LGBT Pride Month.
  • 11 February 2013. A memorandum from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta directs extension of twenty benefits to same-sex domestic partners and children of same-sex domestic partners. 

  • 28 April 2014. An update to the Department of Defense Human Goals Charter is released with language referencing sexual orientation. Specifically, the charter notes the aim “to make military service in the Department of Defense a model of equal opportunity for all regardless of race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or national origin.”

  • 27 March 2015. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) extended coverage to legally married same-sex couples. 

  • June 2015. Protections against discrimination because of sexual orientation are incorporated into the Department of Defense equal opportunity program.

  • 26 June 2015. In Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry. 

  • 30 June 2016. Service members may not be involuntarily separated, discharged, or denied reenlistment or continuation of service solely on the basis of being transgender individuals.

  • 13 March 2019. The Defense Department released a new policy regarding service by individuals with gender dysphoria.  



Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute

Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity in the Armed Services: Background and Issues for Congress. Congressional Research Service report by Kristy N. Kamarck, 13 October 2016.

Additional Resources

"The Social History of the U.S. Navy, 1945–Present: A Historiographical Essay." By Edward J. Marolda, Ph.D. (in the NHHC series Needs and Opportunities in the Modern History of the U.S. Navy).

Library of Congress, LGBT Pride Month

The End of Don't Ask, Don't Tell: The Impact in Studies and Personal Essays by Service Members and Veterans. By J. Ford Huffman and Tammy S. Schultz. Published by Marine Corps University Press (MCUP). PDF available for download from the MCUP book catalog.



Published: Fri May 24 10:06:19 EDT 2019