Op-ed: How Facts and Figures Led to the End of DADT

The Advocate
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February 20, 2013

As LGBT advocates continue to press their agenda forward, they rightly look back at the past to learn what works. While some view “the past” as meaning the start of the Obama administration, understanding the true, long-game strategy that was necessary to secure our advances in recent years is critical to building on those gains, both for LGBT issues and other kinds of progress. Fortunately, some insight can be gained from a newly published academic volume that takes a deep look at the political history of “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT). The volume, a special issue of the Journal of Homosexuality, includes an article I wrote describing what I call “research advocacy”—the use of data and other evidence to gain visibility, credibility and action on LGBT issues. It was part of a twenty-year reframing campaign that LGBT advocates successfully used to make repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay service politically palatable once a friendly president and winnable Congress took power in 2009.