Don’t ask don’t tell policy should be repealed

Deirdra Chapman

Barry Winchell was just another one of the brave and admired soldiers who risked his own life serving for our country, but he was different from the soldiers around him. He was gay. After enduring multiple degrading insults by fellow servicemen, Private Winchell was beaten to death by a baseball bat in 1999 as he was asleep in his barracks in Kentucky. This incident was the pinnacle for harassment of gays in the military and unfortunately this harassment still is occurring today.

Before former president Bill Clinton passed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in 1993, all gays were prohibited from serving in the military. This policy promised that all citizens could serve in the military regardless of their sexual preference. Of course there is a catch. If someone is openly gay then they will be barred from participating in the military: they must be closeted and can be dismissed if they reveal their sexual orientation. These people are voluntarily risking their own lives to protect ours; hence, what gives us the right to question or protest their selflessness?

It is wrong to discriminate against soldiers only because they are gay. It is wrong to force them to keep who they are inside. It is wrong to allow heterosexuals to talk about any relationships or family back home, but ban all gays from discussing such matters. These soldiers have a constant fear hanging over their head of being sent home if they let their sexual preference slip out.  This paranoia does not work and should not be acceptable in today’s society.

This country has been working for centuries to end all kinds of discrimination regarding equality for genders, ethnicities, and religions. Why, then, do we still have this policy that can be nothing short of prejudiced towards openly gay members serving in the military? This prejudice leads to hatred. Hatred leads to violence. Violence leads to death. This policy is not going to help anyone; it is only causing more controversy in a place where it is not needed. There is no need to add to the suffering and anxiety of the gay soldiers who are already witnessing one of the most traumatic experiences of life. We do not need to favor the gay soldiers over the heterosexual ones, but right now the “don’t ask, don’t tell” is discriminating against them, which is neither ethical nor constitutional. The rules should be the same for all soldiers, no matter if they are gay or straight. Either everyone should be open to say what their preference is, or everyone should have to keep it a secret.

The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy still remains in effect today despite the ongoing challenges to repeal the act. In a recent study, more than 70% of Americans say that it should be repealed. That is about three-quarters of the country! More pressure has been put on the Obama administration to repeal the act. Over 14,000 soldiers have already been discharged from their posts since this policy was created. The president has been working with the Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, to try and lift the policy as soon as possible, the date for the repeal has been approximated for sometime after Thanksgiving.

The DADT is only adding to the multiple controversial issues in our world, so once it is repealed Obama can focus. All people no matter what age, gender, or nationality have the right to serve heroically in the military. This right needs to be extended to all gays, regardless if they are open about it or not. Everyone deserves the chance to pursue the career they wish and until the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is lifted we, as a society, and depriving this one specific group of the chance.