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Carter: Military ‘stronger than ever’ 5 years after repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

LGBT pride lanyards and badges lay on a table at a "Do Ask, Do Tell" luncheon held in June at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a statement this week marking the fifth anniversary of the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy barring homosexuals from openly serving in the armed forces that the U.S. military is now "stronger than ever."

MEGAN MYHRE/U.S. AIR FORCE

By AARON KIDD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 22, 2016

Today’s military is “a cross-section of America” that’s stronger than ever, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said while marking five years since the ban on homosexuals openly serving in the military was repealed.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell,” instituted in 1994 by the Clinton administration, prohibited those who “demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts” from military service because their presence “would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.”

In 2011, President Barack Obama lifted the policy, in which servicemembers were not to ask about others’ sexual orientation or talk about their own.

“I am proud to report that five years after the implementation of the repeal of `don’t ask, don’t tell,’ our military, drawn from a cross-section of America, is stronger than ever and continues to exemplify the very best that our great nation has to offer,” Carter said in a statement issued this week by the Department of the Defense.

Openness to diversity and “reaching out in a spirit of renewed inclusiveness” will strengthen the military and enhance national security, he added.

Several lawmakers and government officials took to social media to echo Carter’s sentiments.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat and Army veteran who lost her legs while serving in Iraq, tweeted that DADT’s repeal was “an important step toward equality” and that “our military is stronger for it.”

Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning, the first openly gay person to lead a branch of the armed forces, retweeted an American Military Partner Association photo showing a lesbian couple holding babies while standing inside a military plane, along with a message saying “our modern [military families] can proudly serve our nation.”

Transgender men and women were given the right to openly serve after Carter announced in June that troops cannot be discharged, denied re-enlistment or involuntarily separated solely because of their gender identity.

GOP lawmakers blasted the decision as “politics over policy” during a time of war.

kidd.aaron@stripes.com
Twitter: @kiddaaron

Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning, the first openly gay person to lead a branch of the armed forces, retweeted an American Military Partner Association message on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2016, saying "our modern [military families] can proudly serve our nation."
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