The United States is discussing revoking the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” law
by Anna Frey
The U.S. military is considering revising its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy concerning gay enlistment, which would open up their doors to homosexuals and bisexuals without requiring them to keep their sexual preferences hidden.
Congress is currently hearing opinions from each side of the debate. Many high-profile politicians and military officials are taking a stance and speaking for their respective sides of the issue. America’s top military officer Admiral Mike Mullen supports the change in policy. “It is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do,” he said to the Senate Armed Services Committee last week.
Navy veteran and former presidential candidate John McCain is one who is opposed to changing the policy. Speaking at the same Senate meeting as Admiral Mullen, McCain stated that “the essence of military capability is good order and unit cohesion, and that any practice which puts those goals at unacceptable risk can be restricted.”
One common concern about the current protocol is how it deters gay men and women from joining the military at all. Bob Kavanagh, an openly gay American citizen, decided not to enlist because of the guilt he would feel. “It was too hard to think about going into the service, having to hide a part of who I am,” he told a CNN reporter.
According to a report released in 2006 by the University of California, Santa Barbara, the military spent $364 million enforcing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ruling during the first 10 years of its existence. In addition to these costs, the military had also spent an estimated $200 million training replacement personnel for those who had been discharged.
“I don’t think someone’s sexual orientation should make a difference on whether they get a job,” second semester Arts & Culture student Dana Babineau Burns. “The current policy reflects the same reason why gays have been denied all sorts of jobs in the past – people are stupid.”
“It’s inappropriate to terminate someone’s livelihood because of their sexual orientation,” said a second semester Dawson student who preferred to remain nameless. “The military has to update its values just like it updates its machinery.”
The current policy was established by the Clinton administration in 1993, which was built on a total ban of homosexual military personnel. Canada had a similar ban in place until 1991, at which point they removed all guidelines preventing homosexuals from expressing themselves in the military. Same-sex weddings are now performed on Canadian military bases.