Changing hearts and minds on marriage: How ending DADT matters

DADT is now over.  As the Army announced

The law is repealed. From this day forward, gay and lesbian Soldiers may serve in our Army with the dignity and respect they deserve. 

First gay military marriage after the end of DADTLast night, at midnight was the first marriage of a gay man in the military, between Navy Lt. Gary Ross and his partner of eleven years. 

Ross, 33, wore his Navy dress uniform with medals and a white bow tie for the wedding. Swezy, 49, wore a black tuxedo with white bow tie.

The couple met in 2000, when Ross was a student at the U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland and Swezy was a flight attendant for US Airways.

So, how does ending DADT matter more broadly?  

Policy change can produce opinion change.  

Sometimes this occurs by creating constituencies that will strive to maintain the new policy. This happened with Social Security, farm subsidies, and Medicare. The route to opinion change post-DADT is a bit different.

The end of DADT and the new era in which gay and lesbian people can serve openly in the military marks the end of stigmatization by the most respected institution in America.  

It also increases the likelihood that people will personally know someone who is gay. Having that experience is highly correlated with support for equal rights, including marriage. 

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.