Repeal ‘don’t ask don’t tell’

The United States Senate’s vote upholding the rule was unpatriotic.

by The Editorial Board

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate voted down a bill that would overturn the military’s controversial policy that prevents anyone who is openly gay from serving in our armed forces. In an almost party-line vote, 40 Republicans and three Democrats voted no, preventing the bill from getting the 60 votes it needed to pass.
The Senate’s failure to pass the bill shows just how out of touch many it is with America’s attitude toward homosexuality. Indeed, a CNN poll last May showed that 78 percent of Americans favor repealing the antiquated rule. (The news outlet has found nearly identical numbers since 2007.)
Even top Department of Defense official acknowledge the futility of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy: both Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates are on the record in support of this sadly unjust, misguided policy. They recognize that 28 other countries — including those with professional, highly regarded militaries such as the United Kingdom, Australia and Israel — have allowed gays to serve openly with without suffering moral or recruitment problems.  Less than a month ago, “don’t ask, don’t tell” was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge.
The unpatriotic vote undermines our armed forces. At a time when the military is fighting two wars and having a hard time finding recruits, it should take every qualified individual — gay or straight — who is willing to serve.  
Congress should move quickly to reconsider “don’t ask, don’t tell” not only because it makes military sense but because after 17 years of injustice it’s time for the military to fully accept the gay community just as the rest of America has.