Tuesday, September 20, 2011

OPINION: Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is a Big Step for America

Today marks a monumental step in equality based on sexual orientation. The 17-year-old law prohibiting homosexuals from openly serving in our military forces, more commonly known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," is going out the window. But does it mean that gays and lesbians will come out of the closet? And even if they want to, should they?

It is estimated that around 66,000 closeted homosexuals currently serve in our armed forces. As a supporter of gay rights, I believe the decision to repeal DADT is a step in the direction of tolerance and acceptance. As a patriot, I believe it's a big step in solidifying my respect and love of this great country.
An US Army Training Guide
on how to determine "credible"
evidence of homosexuality.
In the past, many strong and honorable people were drawn by patriotism, duty, and love of their country to join the armed forces. These men and women were often ready to die for their country and its ideals of freedom and justice. However, if these men or women were openly gay, they were effectively told that their "services were no longer needed." Their sacrifices and courage were for some reason not "good enough" for Uncle Sam.
It was the very opposite of  the ideals that America is supposed to stand for. Instead of being part of the American melting-pot, homosexuals were being marginalized as "undesirables." They were being told to stay in the closet or leave the room all together.
Since 1993 when DADT was instituted, over 13,000 members of the armed forces have been discharged for homosexuality. But now, with the repeal of DADT, things can begin to change. America can begin to practice what it's preached for so long: acceptance of all peoples so that democracy and peace can succeed.
The rub is that even though it's legal now to disclose your sexual orientation, there are still many groups trying to get it reinstated. The Southern Baptist Convention has threatened to withdraw its chaplains serving the military. Other spokesmen, politicians, and military figures have also been vocal in their support of DADT. As General Merrill A. McPeak, former Air Force Chief of Staff said in a 2010 Op-ed for the New York Time, "I believe repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ will weaken the warrior culture at a time when we have a fight on our hands."
Regardless of the arguments or proponents against allowing homosexuals openly serve in the military, the statistics show that the majority of Americans are for it. A November 2010 CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll concluded that 72% of  Americans favor permitting people who are openly gay or lesbian to serve in the military, while only 23% oppose it.
While there still may be a slight risk of openly declaring your sexuality in the US Military, progress was never made by the timid. America should ever stride to reach the ideals that our country was built on. Man is born with inalienable rights, regards of ethnicity, creed, religion, or sexual orientation. The repeal of DADT is an opportunity gay rights advocates and military officials alike should rejoice in. It is a signal that we are becoming an even stronger, unified country with an even stronger, unified military to protect our freedoms.
Start the discussion! What are your thoughts on the repeal of DADT? Do you think that this is a step towards a more unified and accepting America? Or do you think that this a faulty move for our military to take in a time of war?

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