Hear no evil speak no evil

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” is a shameful and discriminatory policy.

On March 6 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment. The amendment, which passed into law in 1996, allows the federal government to deny grants to institutions of higher learning if they prohibit or prevent military recruitment on their campuses.

The law is under fire from coalitions of law schools across the country that contend the Solomon Amendment violates the First Amendment. They rightly argue that the ability to refuse facilitation of discriminatory recruitment by the military is necessary in order to adequately express their message of equality and, thus, to remain true to their institutional identities.

Although the ruling comes as no surprise, ultimately at issue is not the Solomon Amendment, but rather the government’s discriminatory “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” is the only policy in the United States that allows the firing of an individual for coming out as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Contrary to its supposed purpose, “don’t ask, don’t tell” has fostered more hostile environments for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender service members. Since 1994 – the year the policy was instituted – 37 percent of members have reported witnessing or experiencing physical violence because of perceived homosexuality. Since 1994, more than 8,700 members of the military have been discharged under the policy. In 2001, three or four members of the military were discharged per day for being gay, lesbian or bisexual.

In a time when the nation is at war and when the military has seen its largest recruitment shortfall since the 1970s, it is ludicrous at best to deny some of the best and brightest citizens the right to serve their country solely because of their sexual orientation. Already, Britain, Canada, Australia and Israel have lifted similar bans in their militaries with no ill effects.

The perpetuation of “don’t ask, don’t tell” simply amounts to deliberate discriminatory policy that relegates the GLBT community to second-class citizens.