America has allies in ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

America’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy puts us among embarrassing company. With countries like South Korea and Iran, our bigoted bedfellows in banning openly gay and lesbian individuals from serving in the military, we are a shining beacon of discrimination for the rest of the world.

Who cares that every NATO nation besides Turkey and the U.S. allows gays to serve openly? It’s more important for America to protect her troops from the horrors of serving with people of differing sexual orientations than to protect those same troops from government-sanctioned bigotry.

Die-hards argue that allowing open gays in the military would destroy unit cohesion and could possibly keep people from joining up due to homophobia – they say we’d lose our servicemen and women by the thousands. But we’ve already removed more than 13,000 men and women from service since “don’t ask, don’t tell” was enacted in 1994 because of their sexual orientation. The Washington Post reported that between 1997 and 2001, more than 1,000 servicemen and women were discharged each year. The number has fallen since then, but still sits around 730 a year.

In his campaign, Barack Obama said he would fight to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.” So far he has accomplished nothing towards this end, even taking a step backward by advising the Supreme Court not to take a case involving the law. The Obama administration said in its brief to the court, “Applying the strong deference traditionally afforded to the Legislative and Executive Branches in the area of military affairs, the court of appeals properly upheld the statute.”

The president is irresolute about the issues, but is Congress doing anything about it? Well, there was an attempt to open debate about repealing the law, but it stalled in the Senate and therefore will not be dealt with until after a military study on the likely effects of this policy shift.

Does it matter that every nation that allows gays to serve openly has not been negatively affected by this decision? For example, the United Kingdom removed this restriction and has since suffered “no discernible impact on operational effectiveness,” according to the British Ministry of Defense. But apparently these British facts and figures can’t translate to American English.

How can you argue with the effectiveness of the military in countries like Pakistan, Cuba and Saudi Arabia? All these countries ban open gays and lesbians from service. While the U.S. does not flat-out ban them from serving, LGBTQ soldiers are forced to lie about their very identity.

The only ways to not be sickened by this discrimination are to be a homophobe, or to think about it like the plot of Mulan – who didn’t like that movie? They’ll make a man out of you.

Does America really need to catch up with the rest of the world? Of course not; the U.S. has always been well-known for supporting human rights. We treat everyone equally, regardless of their race, religion or sexual orientation. Always have and always will –  why, just look at our outstanding track record.

A federal judge in California already ruled that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is unconstitutional, arguing that the policy encroaches on Americans’ constitutional rights. A New York Times article reported that Judge Virginia A. Phillips wrote that in her opinion, the policy has a “direct and deleterious effect on the armed services.”

How does Utah feel about this issue? Mike Lee, the Republican candidate running for the Senate in Utah said that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is working and is against repealing it. However, the Democratic candidate, Sam Granato, supports repealing this policy, stating that keeping qualified personnel out of the military during a time of war doesn’t make any sense to him. Does it make sense to you?

Seriously, look at the countries that support this heterosexism and the ones that don’t. This narrow-minded fear of things that are different has dragged America down in the past, and we shouldn’t turn people away who want to give their lives for their love of country. They are the brave, and America should be the land of the free.

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