Thursday, September 20th 2018

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Appeal, Gays in the Military Seek More Rights

What makes a good soldier? Is it someone who follows their superior’s orders? Someone who respects and cares for fellow comrades? Someone who puts nothing else before the mission? Certainly all these things and more contribute to a soldier’s success in the U.S. military. But what about sexuality? Should being gay or straight define who you are as a soldier?

For 17 years, the “don’t ask, don’t tell policy” has forced gay men and women in the military to hide their true identities. Mandated by federal law, the policy restricts U.S. military personnel from investigating into anyone’s sexual orientation (don’t ask) and from revealing any personal homosexual relationships (don’t tell). Failure to follow the policy has resulted in over 13,000 discharged troops who have cost millions of dollars to replace.

On May 27, the U.S. House and a Senate committee approved an amendment to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy which has served as the official military protocol since 1993. Although the change won’t be put into effect until after a military review at the end of this year, many see the vote as historic. The repeal also needs the approval of President Obama, who advocated for the policy change during his presidential campaign.

Many gay soldiers have expressed their support for the policy’s repeal. America seems to be ready for as well. In a recent CNN poll, 78 percent of the public supports openly gay people serving in the military, nearly 8 in 10 favoring the repeal.

Although this is certainly progress on an important human rights issue, it is not likely that any real change will occur before 2011. Which leaves the question, why did it take this long in the first place? To me, not allowing gay men and women to openly serve seems as outdated as restricting women and minorities from the ranks of military. I see no reason why being gay would limit your expertise in your field or make you any less capable than the straight soldiers serving beside you. To me this law stemmed from fear. Fear of being different and accepting those that differ from the majority. It saddens me to think that this policy even existed in my lifetime, let alone is still in effect today. I’m no military expert, but the big picture still comes down to expression and freedom of human rights.

Still the question remains, if “don’t ask, don’t tell” is repealed, what policy will replace it? Although it may be awhile before gay soldiers are actually encouraged by officials to speak out and express themselves while in the military, with this repeal they will no longer face the threat of discharge if they choose to “tell”. With this broader range of acceptance, hopefully one day the issue being gay in the military will be a thing of the past.

Posted by Rachel on June 11, 2010 at 11:37am.

Leave a Reply



Social Media Tools