Muslim Wire

Evolve: Gays more accepted

Posted in Politics, Society by muslimwire on October 21, 2009

For 16 years, America’s military has operated on a “don’t ask, don’t tell” basis. Patriotic gays are allowed to serve as soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guards, etc. – but only if they keep their orientation secret. Those who are discovered are discharged.

The latest issue of the Pentagon’s Joint Force Quarterly, a publication overseen by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says it’s time to scrap this outmoded prejudice and openly welcome gays and lesbians into armed service.

Since “don’t ask, don’t tell” began in 1993, it says, more than 12,000 gay service members have been detected and dismissed. U.S. taxpayers lost $363 million spent on their training. Further indirect public loss is suffered because many patriotic young homosexuals might have enlisted, but refused to hide their sexual identity.

“The military is essentially forcing thousands of gay men and women to lead dishonest lives in an organization that emphasizes integrity as a fundamental tenet,” the report says. “…There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that unit cohesion will be negatively affected if homosexuals serve openly. Based on this research, it is not time for the administration to reexamine the issue; rather it is time for the administration to examine how to implement the repeal of the ban.”

In the past, conservative groups have warned that “straight” soldiers will be upset and resign if open gays enlist. But the article said Canada and Britain ended their prohibitions, and “the result was no-effect.”

Last weekend, President Obama told a gay rights audience that the military’s ban on gays will be ended. Hurrah. The Chicago Tribune commented: “The sooner the better.” The paper said:

“Don’t-ask, don’t-tell was a reasonable compromise when it was adopted….But the social environment has changed a great deal since then. In 1993, only 44 percent of Americans thought the military should accept open homosexuals. Today, 75 percent do.”

Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell said: “A lot has changed with respect to attitudes within our country. And therefore, I think this is a policy and law that should be reviewed.” Gen. John Shalikashvili, who held the same post, called for outright repeal.

America constantly grows more tolerant and accepting. Hostility to gays has faded, except among hard-core fundamentalists. They mustn’t dictate the whole nation’s values. We hope the new administration in Washington brings true equality to military service.

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