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"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is a policy put into place in 1993 during the Clinton Administration governing gay and lesbian service members. Federal law prohibits anyone who "demonstrate(s) a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts" from serving in the US armed forces.  Before this policy, the various service branches actively investigated soldiers for 'potential gayness' and discharged them dishonorably. Clinton did not believe he had the political capital to allow gays to serve openly (and was outflanked by Congressional action besides), but he and Colin Powell worked out a compromise that they felt would end most discharges.

Some areas within the military have more aggressively sought out and ousted gays, and some gay and lesbian soldiers have found the need to be closeted to be at odds with their obligations to themselves and their country to speak honestly. The military has been a target for gay rights from both sides, with gay activists seeking to have the US recognize gays as full and valuable citizens, and with conservatives considering it a key bastion of ... all the things conservatives hold dear.


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