Gays in the Military

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Steven Danielson

Gays in the Military

A hot topic in the news these days is whether gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military. Many issues have arisen from allowing or not allowing gays to serve openly. Those opposed are concerned that gays would cause a break down in unit cohesion, a rise in assaults or violence, a drop in recruitment or retention, and feel that since America is currently fighting two wars that right now is not a good time to implement a new policy when it is felt that the current one is working just fine. Numerous studies have been conducted on this issue. Through poll, surveys, observing other countries that allow gays to serve openly and even by checking history it is felt that this would not be the case. Given all the evidence that points to allowing gays to serve openly outweigh any negatives that would possibly come about. Gays make up a portion of key personnel that is sorely needed in this time of war especially with a all volunteer force. The fact that military personal are being lost due to this law not only is harmful to military it also wrong on that these gays are having their basic human rights violated by the very country they are trying to protect. This has been an issue within the military since the very beginnings of its establishment of this nation since “The discharge of military personnel for homosexual behavior dates from at least the continental army of the revolutionary period” (Rayside 258). The military had a strict no gays allowed to serve for many years and it wasn’t until former president Clinton raised the issue in his campaign for presidency in 1991 did it come onto the radar of the news and on the minds of the American people. He promised to fight to have it so gays could serve in the armed forces of the United States. When he was elected president he set out to change things. Then President made a effort to change the policy but “Clinton was persuaded by the military, mobilized by Chief of Staff Colin Powell, not to fulfill his campaign promise to allow gays and leasbians to serve openly” (Pencak 178). He was unable to change the policy drastically and had to settle for a compromise with the military and congress. This is where we got the still standing don’t ask don’t tell policy. This new law allowed gays to serve but they were required to keep their sexual orientation private and by going public with it would end in discharge from the service. The new policy also covered any homosexual actions stating that “A service member who engages in, attempts to engage in, or solicits a homosexual act is to be discharged, unless he can prove that such an act was an aberration and is unlikely to recur” (Hillman 264). If they were to state that they were gays or attempt to marry someone of the same sex this would too lead to termination.

The phrase “don’t ask don’t tell” comes from the fact that no one will ever ask if you are gays; as the military used to screen potential future military members by asking them before they joined. The don’t ask tell part comes from the fact that a gay service member must not tell anyone that they are homosexual. Later “don’t pursue” would added to it, meaning that the military would not pursue a suspected gay member as long as they didn’t tell. This was established out of fear that people would conduct “witch hunts” for gay members.

Since the 1980s over 32,000 active duty members have been discharged for being gay. This is a large percent of people who were willing to serve but through no fault of their own we told they could not and were sent on their way. That is 32,000 already fully trained personnel that had to be replaced costing the country millions of dollars. There had been cases were people with key jobs being discharged as in a few Arabic translators be discharge when as of now they are in great demand. Discharging these personal is non sense. Not only is it violating their rights, “U.S....
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