The LGBT community will celebrate the one-year anniversary of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” taking effect this month, and a new study shows that the change has had no negative impact on military readiness, morale, or unit cohesion. Aaron Belkin and his colleagues at the Palm Center conducted extensive interviews over the past six months with retired generals and admirals, anti-repeal activists, active-duty servicemembers, and watchdog organizations on both sides of the issue, in addition to analyzing the experience of several military units and media coverage. Here’s what the study found about the impact of gay, lesbian, and bisexual troops serving openly:
- Repealing DADT has had no overall negative impact on military readiness, including cohesion, recruitment, retention, assaults, harassment, or morale.
- Greater openness and honesty post-repeal may have actually increased understanding, respect, and acceptance.
- Recruitment has remained robust.
- Retention was unaffected by repeal. Only two individuals’ departure can be tied to repeal, both military chaplains.
- There has been no increase in violence within units; in fact, many harassment disputes can now be resolved in ways that were not possible when servicemembers could not disclose their sexual orientation.
- Unit morale was not impacted, except on the individual level depending on a servicemember’s personal position on the issue of DADT.
- LGB servicemembers did not come out en masse.
Even among staunch opponents of open service, no evidence of negative consequences to repeal could be found. Any concerns that allowing LGB servicemembers to serve openly was some sort of “social experiment” that would encumber military readiness were unfounded.