(WASHINGTON, D.C) -- In the months leading up to Congress’ repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” late last year, the Department of Defense discharged 250 service members for violating the ban on openly gay troops, a Pentagon spokeswoman confirmed to ABC News.
The figure, first reported by gay rights group Servicemembers United, covers the period Oct. 1, 2009, to Sept. 30, 2010. President Obama signed the bill into law on Dec. 22, 2010. While the total number discharged is an all-time annual low, gay advocates said it reflects the continued impact of the policy despite efforts to make its enforcement more humane and the discharge approval process more rigorous.
In March 2010, Defense Secretary Robert Gates imposed new guidelines to raise the bar on who or what could initiate an inquiry into allegations of misconduct by a gay or lesbian service member. In October 2010, Gates went further, issuing a memo that said any discharges under "don't ask, don't tell" must be approved by the civilian secretary of the military service branch involved in coordination with other top officials.
“Don’t ask don’t tell” technically remains in effect until 60 days after Gates, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and the president certify that it can be safely rescinded.
In 2010, most of the discharges under "don't ask, don't tell" -- 93 -- came from the Army. The Air Force discharged 64, the Marine Corps discharged 39, and the Navy discharged 54, according to Servicemembers United, which tracks the data.
Since the policy first took effect in 1993, at least 14,316 service members have been discharged for being openly gay.
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