Gays and lesbians in the U.S. military are now free to be open about their sexuality with Tuesday’s (Sept. 20) official repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
The policy, which was enacted in 1993, has been a lightning rod of controversy since President Bill Clinton signed it into law. Under the policy, military commanders could not inquire about a soldier’s sexual orientation, and soldiers were not allowed to discuss their preference.
In a statement regarding the repeal, President Obama says, “patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie
about who they are in order to serve the country they love.”
He adds, “Our armed forces will no longer lose the extraordinary skills and
combat experience of so many gay and lesbian service members … And today, as Commander in Chief, I want those who were discharged under
this law to know that your country deeply values your service.”
While some saw “DADT” as additional protection for the gay and lesbian community, others saw it as discriminatory and not in keeping with basic civil rights.
While still a candidate, one of Barack Obama’s campaign promises was to repeal the policy. His plan was bolstered when Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen told a Senate panel in 2010 to repeal the law, saying, “allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do.”
However not everyone is pleased with the news.
Conservative columnist John Guardiano writes in American Spectator, “Given that sexuality (unlike race or ethnicity) is a profound behavioral characteristic, and given that the U.S. military fights as a team or unit, and not as individuals, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell made eminent sense.”
But it is the law of the land. And for many, a huge civil rights victory.