End ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

James Citti

In 1993, the convergence of an ideology-driven congress, a weak president, an inflexible military and an ill-informed public gave birth to âÄúdonâÄôt ask, donâÄôt tell,âÄù a convoluted, mean-spirited and costly policy crafted to deny gays and lesbians participation in the U.S. military. In the near future, Congress will consider repealing the policy. Here are some facts in support of repeal:The first and perhaps most relevant fact is that âÄúdonâÄôt ask, donâÄôt tellâÄù legislates against the individual, a homosexual, rather than against a behavior, such as a criminal offense. In other words, persons are punished for what they are even though their sexual identity was determined by genealogy or environment. Second, the military of over 30 countries, including allies such as Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom fully integrate gays and lesbians into their ranks. Those militaries report no cohesion or other performance problems. Third, the policy is damaging and costly. Our military has discharged over 13,000 people because they violated the policy. These men and women served their country with honor. Many brought invaluable skills and experience to their service branches. A University of California panel estimated the cost to discharge violators and retrain replacements at $363 million. Finally, Americans overwhelmingly support repeal. For example, 57 percent of those polled recently by Quinnipiac University agreed that homosexuals should be able to openly serve in the U.S. military. Seventeen years is long enough to test a policy. This one is a failure. Please urge your congressional representatives to act in favor of fairness, compassion and rationality and to repeal âÄúdonâÄôt ask, donâÄôt tell.âÄù James Citti, University undergraduate student