The U.S. Military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy

A Reference Handbook

by Melissa Sheridan Embser-Herbert, ed.


Embser-Herbert provides a comprehensive overview of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. She traces the history of the policy and chronicles the arguments of its early supporters and the criticisms of its opponents. Although there is little doubt that the future will bring about change, this volume provides both the history of the law and raises timely questions about its future.

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Cover image for The U.S. Military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy

October 2007


Pages 176
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Military History/Armed Forces
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Embser-Herbert explores the history of the policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, (DADT) the federal law restricting the military service of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. In this narrative overview, she traces the policy from its origins in the early 1990s, through its evolution and implementation into law in the United States military, before evaluating the impact of post-9/11 events on the military, the policy, and the ongoing debate surrounding the existence of the policy itself as lawmakers consider its repeal.

Her three-part history of DADT begins with a brief look at earlier policies that preceded it, a discussion of events in 1992-1993 that resulted in the passage and implementation of the new law, and an examination of the law's impact on the military. She also compares the policy to that of other nations, such as Canada, Australia, and Great Britain, that eliminated similar restrictions as they sought ways to avoid a potential manpower shortage in their armed forces.

The War on Terror has returned DADT to the public spotlight. Embser-Herbert examines U.S. experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan and what they can teach about gays and lesbians in the military. She concludes Part I with an analysis of whether the law might be repealed or overturned. Part II of the handbook provides summaries of key legal decisions, and Part III contains key documents, such as the language of the law itself and excerpts from current military regulations and training manuals.


  • annotated bibliography
  • chronology of events
  • glossary of terms

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