The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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The military should embrace honesty

The more I say the phrase ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ the more childish in nature it becomes. It’s like the bargaining that children make on a playground during recess. ‘I’ll let you play kickball if you don’t tell the teacher I ate your cookie.’

Unlike the blackmailing phrases that spring from the mouths of children, the phrase I’m referring to holds a lot more weight. ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell,’ a policy implemented during President Clinton’s time in office, allowed gays and lesbians to serve in the military with the stipulation that they keep their sexual orientation private. In simper terms, military commanders wouldn’t ask and they wouldn’t tell.

Fast-forward 15 years, the topic remains controversial for many as President Barack Obama signaled that during his time in office he plans to reverse the law banning openly-gay men and women to serve in the military.

While the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy served its purpose in the early 1990s, its overall ideals no longer fit current-day reality.

Many people make the argument that servicemen and women would be reluctant to serve and recruits would be less likely to enlist if gays and lesbians were to openly serve.

In a 2008 Military Times survey, 71 percent of readers said they would continue to serve in the military if the policy was overturned. However, close to 10 percent of readers said they wouldn’t re-enlist or extend their service with an openly-gay policy in practice.

While 10 percent is a large amount who would feel uncomfortable serving with openly-gay men and women, it is important for people to look at the amount of gay recruits who are unwilling to enlist under the current policy.

Not to mention, there has been a significant amount of servicemen and women discharged under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ ‘Since the law’s 1994 implementation, more than 12,500 women and men have been discharged,’ reads the Servicemembers Legal Defense’s website.

In addition, the website says according to the 2005 Government Accountability Office report, nearly 800 of those discharged were mission critical specialists such as pilots, intelligence analysts, medics and linguists.

If the policy were overturned, maybe those military members could take over for the 10 percent unwilling to serve with openly-gay individuals. But that’s just a thought.

As I explained earlier, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ had its time and place in American society. In the early 1990s many people were still struggling with the prospect of homosexuality. They knew it was happening, but didn’t want to see it happening.

President Clinton’s compromise with Congress in the summer of 1993 was an effort to move America in the direction of change in a way that was easy for most to stomach.

When announcing the policy on gays and lesbians in the military, Clinton referred to the American military as a conservative institution.

‘Because it is a conservative institution, it is right for the military to be wary of sudden changes,’ he said.’ ‘Because it is an institution that embodies the best of America and must reflect the society in which it operates, it is also right for the military to make changes when the time for change is at hand.’

Once again, the time for change is at hand. At a point in time when the country is at war the last thing it should do is ask people to choose between living honestly and serving their country.

A dear friend of mine plans on entering the military upon graduation. She happens to be gay. When we talk about her plans to enlist the last thing that comes to her mind is ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ What does come up frequently is her willingness to serve the country.

Regardless of a person’s stance on homosexuality, it is time for an updated policy on gays and lesbians in the military.’ And instead of relying on a childlike phrase to soothe its opponents like, ‘don’t ask don’t tell,’ it should read, ‘Come all honestly who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for our country.’

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