Discussions around sexuality in the United States have evolved over the years. However, the
gay community has spent a longer time in the negative light than the positive. Thankfully, social attitudes are beginning to change, and gays are receiving more visibility
and acceptance. Many states are enacting anti-discriminatory laws to protect gays in the
military. That said, can gay people join the army? Let us explore the legal intricacies and whether
aspiring gays have a place in the army.
The Army: Before the 20th Century
The Articles of War of 1916 categorized assault with intent to commit sodomy as a criminal
offense. Yet, it was amended in 1920 to include consensual sodomy. According to the 1951
Uniform Code of Military Justice, “any person subject to this chapter who engages in
unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal
is guilty of sodomy.”
The LGBT community experienced a boon during World War II. Due to the need for
manpower, the military relaxed the enforcement of anti-homosexual policy. But after the war,
society became uncomfortable with changing gender norms. First, the Women’s Army Corps
(WACs) investigated and expelled lesbians to return the country to ‘normalcy.’ Likewise, the
McCarthy era spurred the anti-gay crusade, also called the Lavender Scare – a period of
intense anti-gay persecution. In 1982, the military banned gay people from serving. Not
surprising since the army contains 81.6% men and only 18.4% women as of 2021.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – 1993
The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) was introduced and enforced by the Clinton
Administration on December 21, 1993. It placed an outright ban on openly gay individuals
from joining the military. Under the act, military authorities cannot ask about an individual’s
sexual orientation. Likewise, service members don’t need to disclose their orientation to
anyone. Discharged servicemen or individuals looking to come back to civilian life after
serving often hire a military resume writer to help with their job search. The best military
resume writing services for veterans listed on EduReviewer are some examples of such
professional writers. These writers offer guarantees, low prices, and impressive customer
DADT allowed being gay in the military. Nonetheless, thousands of service
members who disclosed their sexual orientation or were discovered to be publicly gay were
discharged. Over 14,500 gay troops have been discharged since the policy’s introduction.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repealed
Eighteen years after the enactment, former president Barack Obama repealed DADT. In his
statement, he said the policy forced gays to lie about who they are. An estimated number of
65,000 serving gay and lesbian servicemen and women and lobby groups across the US took
the news with joy.
He said, “As of today, our armed forces will no longer lose the extraordinary skills and
combat experience of so many gay and lesbian service members. Today, every American can
be proud that we have taken another great step toward keeping our military the finest in the
world and toward fulfilling our nation’s founding ideals.
Obama paid tribute to the over 14,500 US service members who have been discharged since
DADT took effect. In effect, the Pentagon said recruiters now accept applications from
openly gay people.
Can Gay People Join the Army?
Yes, gay people now enroll in the military, effective since 2011. In other words, they no
longer need to lie or make similar resume writing mistakes, unlike before. Earlier this year, the Secretary of Defense, Biden appointed Lloyd Austin, and wrote to commemorate Pride
month. He wrote, “As Secretary of Defense, I remain dedicated to making sure that our
LGBTQ+ personnel across the Joint Force can continue to serve the country that we all love
with dignity and pride — this month and every other one.”
The policy to accept gays into the army is relatively new compared to the long-standing
history of the United States Military. As a result, despite the legal acceptance, individuals still
face various mental health and physical problems. To mitigate the situations, the military
allows harassed or threatened service members to file a formal complaint to the military
police or their chain of command.
Likewise, individuals who feel they were denied an appointment or passed up for a
promotion do the same. Furthermore, soldiers are free to build a support network of fellow
LGBTQ in military or talk to a counselor.
Timeline of the gay ban in the US Army:
1993: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy implementation.
2000: DADT review.
2010: President Obama signed the DADT Repeal Act.
2011: DADT ended on September 20
2015: U.S. DOD lifted the ban on transgender serving in the military.
2016: The Pentagon lifted a ban on transgender army members.
2017: President Trump reversed the 2016 policy.
2019: The Supreme Court allowed the ban to go into effect while the legal battle was
2021: President Biden reversed the ban.
Country | Gay Military Status
1. Albania – Legal since 2008.
2. Argentina – Legal since 2009.
3. Australia – Legal since 1992.
4. Brazil – Legal since 2011.
5. Canada – Legal since 1992.
6. Croatia – Legal since 2013.
7. France – Legal since 2000.
8. Germany – Legal since 2002.
9. Italy – Legal since 2010.
10. North Korea – Celibacy during the first ten years of service
for all enlistees. Homosexual is considered
a situational sexual behavior and is not
illegal but may result in execution.
11. South Korea – Legal since 2021.
**A table showing the legality and inclusion of gay people in the military of 11 countries.
The conversations around sexuality in the military continue to evolve. Today, gay army
personnel are receiving more visibility and representation. Thanks to a more inclusive
cultural landscape, you don’t have to worry about discharge or suffer any legal
complications. So, if you’re feeling patriotic and want to join the army, go right ahead and
make your country proud.