The number of gay and lesbian service members discharged under the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy has dropped by almost half since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.

According to statistics released by the Pentagon on Friday, significant declines have occurred in every branch of the armed forces, the paper said. The Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy discharged fewer gay men and lesbians last year than in any year since the Pentagon began tallying such figures in 1997.

Overall, the total number of service members discharged under the policy on gays in the military has dropped from a high of 1,227 in 2001 to 653 in 2004, the Post said.