Watch History of Don't Ask, Don't Tell
- 1 hr 25 min
History of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a 2011 documentary film that chronicles the creation, implementation, and ultimate repeal of the controversial United States military policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT). The film features extensive interviews with key players in the history of DADT, including top military officials, members of Congress, activists, and experts on LGBT rights. The film begins by providing background on the history of discrimination against LGBT individuals in the US military, highlighting the fact that until very recently, anyone found to be gay or lesbian was immediately discharged from service. It then moves on to the political climate of the early 1990s, when President Bill Clinton attempted to address the issue of LGBT rights in the military. Clinton's original proposal was to allow openly gay individuals to serve, but this was met with outrage from military leaders and many members of Congress. The compromise that emerged was DADT, a policy that allowed gay individuals to serve in the military, but only if they kept their sexual orientation hidden. The film explores the arguments in favor of DADT at the time, which centered around concerns about unit cohesion, morale, and privacy. It also examines the pushback from activists who saw DADT as a step backwards for civil rights, and from many LGBT individuals who found it impossible to live a double life and maintain their dignity. History of Don't Ask, Don't Tell goes on to follow the implementation of the DADT policy over the next two decades. It shows how the military's enforcement of the policy varied depending on the administration and the leadership at the time, with some individuals being discharged for being gay, while others were allowed to serve despite openly flouting the policy. It also examines the personal toll that DADT took on many LGBT individuals, who often felt isolated, ashamed, and afraid of being discovered. The film provides a comprehensive look at the various attempts to repeal DADT over the years, including several high-profile court cases and legislative efforts. It shows how these efforts were often stymied by opposition from military leaders, conservative politicians, and religious groups. It also highlights the role of grassroots activism in building public support for repeal, from the efforts of groups like the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network to the hard work of individual activists. History of Don't Ask, Don't Tell culminates with the repeal of the policy in 2011, after years of intense lobbying and activism by LGBT rights groups. The film shows how the repeal was championed by top military officials such as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who argued that DADT was no longer necessary and was in fact causing more harm than good. It also shows the celebration that erupted among LGBT individuals and allies across the country when the repeal was signed into law. Overall, History of Don't Ask, Don't Tell provides a powerful and insightful look at one of the most controversial and divisive policies in modern military history. Through interviews with those directly affected by the policy, as well as those who helped to shape it and ultimately dismantle it, the film provides a comprehensive and nuanced perspective on the complex issues of rights, discrimination, and national security that surround LGBT individuals serving in the military.