Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Valley Patriot Lesbian Columnist

By: Dani Langevin – June, 2010

In the 4th century BC the Thebian commander, Gorgidas, hand picked 150 homosexual couples from his army to make up the Sacred Band of Thebes. For forty years, this band of gay warriors liberated Thebes from Spartan rule and defeated armies three times its size. Unfortunately, it met its demise at the hands of the Macedonian army lead by Phillip II and his allegedly homosexual son, Alexander the Great, who is one of history’s greatest military minds. Gorgidas clearly saw the value of homosexuals in the military.

Before 1993, recruiters asked enlistees if they were homosexual. They were denied enlistment if they answered yes or later discharged, if they were found out to be gay. When Bill Clinton entered office in 1993, he wanted to rid the military of this policy. Congress took his power to change policy away and he was forced to sign the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law. The law does not allow military personnel to ask if a person is homosexual. Nor does it allow soldiers to admit they are gay, discuss homosexuality and homosexual acts or they risk a military discharge. Isn’t this a violation of the first amendment: the freedom of speech?

The military states that they will discharge any “openly gay” homosexuals. What does that mean? Are there soldiers marching around with a particularly flamboyant swagger and wearing pink camouflage? If you ask me, all women in the military look like lesbians. Really, can anyone tell me what openly gay means and how it is a danger to national security?

I interviewed a veteran who served in the military for 22 years. He retired in 1991 as a Master Sergeant. He said that serving as a gay man is difficult because you are always, “…on your guard…and had to be careful with words.” He goes on to say that he did, “…think some people started to figure out that I was gay. No one ever mentioned it and I never heard homophobic comments aimed at me. What was important to my co-workers was that I did my job and I did it well.” He feels that, “…the younger troops…are much more tolerant…” and that it’s the older generation in Congress and the Pentagon, who make policy, “…that can’t make adjustments.”

Congress, I bet, patted each other on the backs when they passed the law saying, “Yeah, this is better. They can still serve, take a bullet and die honorably for their country. We just don’t want to recognize the faggots and dykes who are willing to lay down their lives for our freedom.”

It is estimated that there are almost 70,000 homosexuals serving in every branch of the military today. Since 1993, over 13,500 of them have been discharged, many from critical operations. The initial cost of these losses is the safety of our nation and strength of our military. The monetary cost is approximately $363 million having been spent on ‘separation travel’, recruiting and retraining replacements.

President Obama promised that he would work towards repealing this law, but, like most of his promises, he is slow to move on this issue. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who voted against the law in 1993 is still one of its strongest opponents. Other supporters are Senators. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn), Ron Wyden (D-Ore), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Roland Burris (D-Ill.) and Congressman Moran.

On May 27 the House of Representatives voted to repeal the law by a 234 to 194 margin. The Senate Armed Services Committee followed suit. However, it still has to be repealed by Congress. The repeal is actually an amendment attached to a bill that will approve over $700 billion for military operations. Many Republicans are threatening to vote against this bill if the amendment is still attached. This includes our centerfold Senator, Scott Brown. Really? They would deny the necessary funding to supply and support our troops because those who are willing to lay down their lives for our country and its citizens want equal and fair treatment under the law? What kind of Americans are these Republicans?

The full Senate is expected to vote on the bill some time this summer. Even if it is repealed it would not become law until it is ‘studied’ to determine how it will impact the military and just how it would be carried out. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is asking Pentagon chief legal counsel Jeh Johnson and Gen. Carter Ham, commander of the US Army forces in Europe to report to him as late as December about their concerns. We all know that this December can turn into next December.

I’m asking Santa for an early Christmas present so that we can all don our gay apparel or better yet, uniforms.