1778 March 11: Lt. Gotthold Frederick Enslin is discharged from the Continental Army for sodomy, the first known American to be discharged from the military for homosexuality 1917 March 1: The Articles of War includes a stipulation that includes a court martial for servicemembers who commit “assault with intent to commit sodomy.” 1941 The United States Army Surgeon General’s Office issues a memorandum including “homosexual proclivities” as factors barring military service. 1942 During World War II, a “blue discharge” policy is put in place that allows gays, sexually active or not, to be separated from the military, replacing the former policy that prosecuted sexually active gay men. 1947 “Blue discharges” are replaced by a policy mandating an “undesirable discharge” for a man believed to be gay or bisexual and a “dishonorable discharge” for those found guilty of same-sex behavior. 1949 Oct. 11: The Department of Defense implements a policy that homosexuals cannot serve in any branch of the Armed Forces. 1950 May 31: President Harry Truman signs the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 125 of which prohibits sodomy. 1957 The United States Navy Board of Inquiry, led by Capt. S.H. Crittenden, issues a report finding “no sound basis” for the presumptions that gays in the military posed a “security risk”; however, it advocated gays not be included in the military because homosexuality was “wrong” and “evil.” 1960 Fannie Mae Clackum wins eight years of back pay from the U.S. Air Force in the U.S. Court of Claims after she was discharged for being a lesbian, marking the first time the military’s ban of LGBT servicemembers was successfully challenged, although the case centered on a due-process claim. 1975 Sept. 8: U.S. Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich appears on the cover of Time, the first openly LGBT person to be featured on the cover of an American news magazine. He was discharged weeks later and, after suing the military the following year, settles for an honorable discharge. 1981 Jan. 16: The Department of Defense, under President Ronald Reagan, issues a directive that “homosexuality is incompatible with military service” and servicemembers who acknowledge homosexuality or bisexuality, or engage in same-sex sexual activity, would be discharged. 1992 The Government Accounting Office reports 17,000 men and women were discharged as homosexuals in the 1980s. Of these, 51 percent were from the Navy and 20 percent were white women, both highly disproportionate for their representation. May: Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder introduces the Military Freedom Bill to lift the military ban on gay servicemembers; the bill does not see a vote. 1993 Jan. 29: Newly inaugurated President Bill Clinton announces plans for a new policy that would prevent the government from inquiring if a military member was gay, but would also prohibit the servicemember from disclosing his or her orientation. Nov. 30: Congress approves a defense measure with text included that upholds the 1981 ban on openly gay servicemembers. Dec. 21: Clinton signs Defense Directive 1332.14 into law, codifying his compromise. The full name of the policy is “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue.” “Don’t Harass” was added later. 1994 There are a total of 617 discharges based on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in its first year. March 8: Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union file the first legal challenge to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on behalf of six gay servicemembers; a district court ruled the policy to be unconstitutional but that ruling was later overturned on appeal. June: A federal district judge rules the 1992 discharge of lesbian National Guard member Margarethe Cammermeyer to be unconstitutional and she is reinstated in her post, where she serves until her retirement three years later. 1998 Five years after its implementation, the number of discharges rises to 1,163 this year. 2001 The number of annual “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”-related discharges hits an all-time high with 1,273 this year. 2004 Oct. 18: Log Cabin Republicans file suit challenging the constitutionality of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” 2005 March 2: Congressman Marty Meehan introduces the Military Readiness Enhancement Act to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” with 122 cosponsors; the bill dies in committee. 2007 March 28: Meehan re-introduces the repeal bill with 149 cosponsors; the bill dies in committee. 2009 March 3: Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher introduces the Military Readiness Enhancement Act with 140 cosponsors. July 8: Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy takes over the repeal bill, growing the cosponsor list by more than two-dozen in his first weeks as prime sponsor. Aug. 5: Sen. Joe Lieberman introduces the repeal bill for the first time in the Senate with 33 cosponsors. 2010 March 18: Lt. Dan Choi and other LGBT activists are arrested after chaining themselves to the White House fence in protest of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Sept. 9: U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips rules “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is unconstitutional in the Log Cabin Republicans’ case, but the ruling is later stayed. Dec. 15: The U.S. House of Representatives passes Murphy’s bill to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in a 250-175 vote. Dec. 18: The U.S. Senate passes the bill to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in a 65-31 vote. Dec. 22: President Barack Obama signs the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal bill into law, but the measure stipulates a certification process before full repeal. 2011 July 22: President Obama and military leaders certify that the military is prepared for the lifting of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Sept. 20: At 12:01 a.m., “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is officially repealed. After 18 years in place, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was responsible for at least 14,346 discharges.
— compiled by Jen Colletta