On Wednesday, January 10, 2007, President George W. Bush, in his State of the Union Address, stated “…working together to increase the size of the active Army and Marine Corps, so that America has the Armed Forces we need for the 21st century.” At the end of 2006, President Bush said something similar about enlarging the U.S. military, which sparked conversation and debates about raising the ban against openly gay men and lesbian women serving in the U.S. Military.
The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, currently in place, doesn’t allow openly gay people to serve in the U.S. Military. Retired generals and many lawmakers think it is time to remove the ban on gays entering the military. What do you think?
In “Second Thoughts on Gays in the Military”, a New York Times Op-Ed piece published on January 2, 2007, retired Army General John M. Shalikashvili stated, “I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces.” General Shalikashvili believes opinions about gay men and lesbian women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces have changed since the last time this topic was debated in 1993.
General Shalikashvili no longer believes that allowing gay men and lesbian women to enter the U.S. Military will lower morale, create recruiting problems and undermine the cohesion of combat units. He refers to a new Zogby poll taken from military members returning from Afghanistan and Iraq as well as precedents set by “24 foreign nations, including Israel ” that allow openly gay members in their military as proof that opinions on openly gay people serving in the military have changed. Retired General Shalikashvili also served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993 to 1997 when the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was adopted.
Marty Meehan, Democratic Representative from Massachusetts, introduced H.R. 1059 to replace the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy on March 2, 2005. Rep. Meehan is determined to renew legislation that will eliminate the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and replace it with a nondiscriminatory policy that will allow openly gay men and lesbian women to serve in the U.S. Military. Rep. Meehan, on Tuesday January 2, 2007, openly praised retired General Shalikashvili’s New York Times Op-Ed piece regarding his second thoughts on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. In a statement to the press, Rep Meehan said “There is no place in this country for discrimination, be it on the basis of race, creed or sexual orientation, and there is certainly no place for institutional discrimination codified in federal statute.” Rep. Meehan used Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. ruling in a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” court case back in mid-2006, as support for his introduction of H.R. 1059. Judge O’Toole Jr. stated, “the remedy for bad decision-making by the political branches is to be found in the working of the political process.” In other words, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy of the U.S. Armed Forces should be overturned with legislation, not legal action.
In this time of war, many believe it is past time to cast out the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy of the U.S. Military so that qualified and motivated people can enter the U.S. Armed Forces whatever their sexual preference. Gay men and lesbian women have served in the military for a very long time without any visible damage to the U.S. Armed Forces. Unfortunately, whether they are highly trained linguists or have already served in Iraq, gays in the military are being given the boot.
There is currently a petition at ThePetitionSite.Com titled Tell Congress to End “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Now! This petition already has 8,935 signatures. If you would like to sign the petition, please visit http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/905773167?ltl=1168625237.
Supporters of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, such as Arizona State Senator John McCain, possible 2008 Presidential Candidate, and Democrat Ike Skelton of Missouri, House Armed Forces Chairperson, continue to believe that a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is best for the U.S. Armed Forces. I’d like to know what you think.