Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — An unAmerican Scam

The controversy over the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was in the news again not too long ago, and the other day, I received a letter from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network asking for my help.  Actually, they were really wanting money.  But since I really don’t have any to give them, I figured this would suffice.  Besides, I do have a very strong opinion on this topic, and I think it’s high time that I put it out there.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is the only law (local, state, and national) that mandates a firing a gay employee.  It has also been responsible for the discharge of 11, 082 men and women from our Armed Forces (Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, Army, and Air Force) between 1994 and 2005.  And since 2001, we have been in a state of war.  Yet, while the Army and other branches whine and complain that they are falling short of their recruitment numbers and that there aren’t enough troops, they still feel it necessary to discriminate against Americans wanting to serve….the only reason why is that they are gay Americans.  Do I feel any sort of sympathy for our Armed Forces because they don’t have enough troops??  Not really.  You can’t complain that you don’t have enough troops yet turn around and tell someone they can’t serve their country just because they’re gay.  I mean, come on.  They’ll let people who aren’t even American citizens yet….immigrants….serve in our armed forced, but heaven forbid openly gay American citizens.  It is simply not logical.

And here’s another interesting fact to let stir in the back of your mind.  The federal government (more specifically, our intellegence agencies) have said they need more people than know Arabic….that they do not have enough people to decipher all the intellegence information that they receive in that language.  So it is possible that our intellegence agencies, that are sworn to protect us from another attack, just might actually not decipher a critical piece of information before its too late.  So why is this relevant to what I’m talking about.  In January 2005, the Defense Department reported that it separated 20 Arabic and 6 Persian language experts from the Armed Forces because of “telling.”    OK….now timeout here.  They’re saying on one hand we don’t have enough people that know these languages to decipher all the material they receive on a daily basis, yet they can afford to “separate” those that do know these languages on the basis of just being gay.  Something is not making sense here to me.  If national security is a top priority, shouldn’t that come higher than gay discrimination or has something changed that I missed on the news??  Our enemies could be plotting against us right now at this very second and yet we might not know just because we can’t have gay people deciphering critical messages.  This is like totally backwards and against what our politicians keep telling us about the war on terror.

In February 2005, the Government Accountability Office released estimates that it had cost American taxpayers nearly $200 million since 1993 to enforce “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  This includes investigations, bringing them up on charges, trials….basically, wrecking their entire lives.  And all because they wanted to serve their country.  They wanted to give back to the country that they call home.  That $200 million could have been used in a much better way….say possibly Education.

We are supposed to be the land of the free.  We are supposed to be the role models for other nations to follow.  Yet, we somehow find a way to discriminate against another group of American citizens.  When we conquer one hurdle….we just come up to another one and do it all over again.  Would it surprise you to learn that out of the 25 nations that make up NATO, 15 of those nations permit gays to serve??  I think so….it surprised me even.  And of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, only Britain and France permit gays to serve openly.  The United States, Russia, and China do not.  Talk about some good company on that list.  We should be ashamed of ourselves as Americans.  For shame.  We should be leading this effort by allowing all citizens to serve their country instead of practicing discrimination and intolerance.  The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is just simply wrong.  It is illogical, unjust, and completely unAmerican.  Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has called the arguements against gay people serving openly “the same kind of talk we heard about women and blacks.”

Public opinion is starting to shift.  The people that make up this great nation of ours are starting to see the logical side to this….especially in this time of war.  In March 2006, a study conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that 60% were in favor of allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in our armed forces.  So where are our politicians….those elected to serve us the people and to protect us??  Mainly, they’re squabbling over gay marriage and giving themselves pay raises while keeping the minimum wage the same.  Are they really looking for our nation??  Not so much.

However, there is a silver lining in all of this.  On March 2, 2005, Representative Martin Meehand (MA) sponsored teh Military Readiness Enhancement Act.  On March 17, it was referred to the House subcommittee…..where it still sits today.  The bill currently has 122 cosponsors, not enough for a vote in the House of Representatives or a passing vote at that.

This is not Democrat vs. Republican issue nor even a secular vs. religion issue (since this is technically not a religious debate at all).  This is an American issue at its very core.  On April 5, 2005, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican member of the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations became a cosponsor of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act.  She was joining House Republicans Christopher Shays of Connecticut and Jim Kolbe of Arizona.  And so you know, Rep. Kolbe is openly gay.  So this new legislation is transending party lines, but yet too many of them are too slow to realize the importance of this bill.

H.R. 1059

“To amend title 10, United States Code, to enhance the readiness of the Armed Forces by replacing the current policy concerning homosexuality in the Armed Forces, referred to as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, with a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”

From 2004-2005, the military was discharging an average of 2 soldiers per day for being gay.  And yet we are involved in a worldwide conflict against terrorism….and two actual wars (Afghanistan and Iraq).  It’s time our political leaders stood up for something that was right for once.  There are hard-working American citizens out there who want to serve our nation….serve their country, and they are gay. We should be letting these people do so.  They are still Americans….and they still have rights that every other American citizen has.  If you do not support letting gays serve in our Armed Forces, then you are dooming our nation….not only dooming it to another attack, but also in prolonged wars overseas since we don’t have enough troops or recruits, and also in civil strife tht will errupt if the gay community continues to be discriminated against.  This is wrong….this is absolutely wrong.  And it needs to change.  And the sooner it changes, the better off we will be….the better protected we will be, and the more troops we will have fighting President Bush’s little war.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was initially a compromise between President Clinton and the Republicans of Congress, and it has failed miserably.  Some Republicans and Democrats are starting to realize this.    All I have to say is that its about damn time.  Now if we could only get some more our elected officials that are acting too slow to actually realize the benefits of this, we would be a much better place and a much better people for it.

Don’t forget, we are supposed to the land of the free.  That it is the United States of America that is supposed to set the example for the world to follow.  Yet, we seem to be lagging behind on this one….as we often do when it comes to civil strife.  Now we must make up lost ground.  We must show the world that we can practice what we preach.  We must put the money where our mouth is, so to speak.  We are one nation, one people…and if we wish to serve openly in our armed forces to protect that nation….to protect it’s people who just happen to be our fellow citizens, then we should be allowed to do.

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