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Friday, March 4, 2011

Do Tell: The “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” Study Is Donated to the Archives Center

The Archives Center at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has been given a complete set of the published reports produced by the Department of Defense Comprehensive Review Working Group detailing and analyzing the results of the Department of Defense’s recent survey on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy. The publications were hand-delivered to the Archives Center just days after the report’s release on November 30, 2010.

The study with its supporting documents and appendices amounts to seven volumes. The results of the survey provided a key component for the ultimate repeal of DADT by Congress in December 2010.

The policy’s full title was “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue.” The policy was adopted as a compromise between Congress and the Clinton administration in 1993 and became part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994. Almost immediately the policy proved more complicated and divisive than its title would presume. Thousands of members of the armed forces were still discharged on the basis of their sexual orientation and calls for its repeal were heard almost immediately after its passage. Arguments both for and against the policy became part of the public discourse and made for a vigorous debate about whether or not homosexuality constituted a threat to combat readiness and mission effectiveness.

The report has become part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Collection in the
Archives Center. This study collection contains many items of interest to the historical researcher. The collection contains a variety of LGBT related periodicals dating from the 1950s to the present day including a complete run of ONE magazine, a seminal publication published between 1953 and 1972. The collection also includes material from a broad range of LGBT organizations, such as The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington (GMCW) and the Texas Gay Rodeo Association (TGRA), documenting the LGBT presence in communities throughout the United States. The collection includes material donated by noted lesbian photographer and independent videomaker JEB (Joan E. Biren).

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