Don’t condone ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

By Editorial Board

Of all the promises President Barack Obama made during his campaign, the pledge to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” echoed loudest. He was the first president to set real goals toward achieving gay rights, and the plan to end the discriminatory practice was a crucial step in the right direction.

As has been the case with many of Obama’s campaign promises, though, the repeal of the military’s policy against openly gay soldiers remains unseen.

The Senate recently failed to reach a majority in order to push the repeal through, and Obama’s administration has reneged on its original message. Now the administration says an immediate repeal could hurt the military’s preparedness while the country is at war.

The need to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is no different than the need to desegregate the military in 1948 and no different than the need for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is a minority group struggling to gain equal rights. The bigoted law’s eventual repeal is inevitable, but Obama has the opportunity to be the catalyst.

The law was implemented in 1993 after significant compromises between President Clinton’s campaign goals and a Republican majority in Congress. Only 17 years later, the law feels outdated—it is prejudiced.  Considering how far our society has come in regard to accepting LGBTQ people during this time (although we still have far to go), it is imperative this respectful realization is soon reflected on a federal level.

Furthermore, the generation coming up to serve in the military is more accepting of gays. If 75 percent of Americans back the policy’s repeal, as reported by The Washington Post on Feb. 12, that number is surely higher among military-age people.

A study completed by the RAND Corp. in 1993 after “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was signed concluded open service would not affect camaraderie, morale or military readiness. Studies done in Australia, Canada, Israel and Great Britain reported the same.

The Pentagon reported 75 percent of young Americans are ineligible to serve because of setbacks like criminal records, poor education and health problems, yet 13,500 qualified service members have been discharged over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” since 1994.

While the Senate sits on the issue until an update to the 1993 study is completed that will no doubt produce the same obvious results, we ask them this: How can U.S. service members be all they can be if they can’t be themselves?