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What Can Progressives Learn from the Fight to Repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’?

Today marks the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, a policy that for more than 17 years prohibited gay men and lesbians from serving in the military and publically disclosing their sexual orientation. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell – or DADT – was signed into law in 1993 during the early days of the Clinton Administration. Last December, Congress passed a law repealing it on the condition that the President, Secretary of Defense, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that a repeal would keep military readiness intact, and a complete repeal after a 60 day waiting period. That certification was sent to Congress on July 22nd of this year. Today, September 20th, marks the end of the 60 day waiting period, and the consigning of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to the dustbin of history. With the overturn of DADT, enlisted service men and women can now openly declare that they are gay without fear of reprisal. New applicants will not be questioned about their sexuality. More than 13,000 servicemen and women have been dismissed for violating the policy. As of today, those who were dismissed can re-enlist if qualified. To reinforce the new policy, the Defense Department is adopting a zero-tolerance policy for homophobic behavior, much in the way it does for racist and sexist behavior. The fight to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell marks a civil rights milestone, one that offers many lessons for progressives seeking to overturn other regressive social policies. In a new Ebook, Associate Professor of Political Science at San Francisco State University, Aaron Belkin lays out the tactics that worked.

GUEST: Aaron Belkin, Associate Professor of Political Science at San Francisco State University, author of the e-Book “How We Won: Progressive Lessons from the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Find out more at www.howwewon.com.