Don't ask, don't tell" is the common term for the U.S. military policy which implements Pub.L. 103-160 (10 U.S.C. § 654). Unless one of the numerous exceptions from 10 U.S.C. § 654(b) applies, the policy prohibits anyone who
"demonstrate(s) a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts" from
serving in the armed forces of the United States, because it "would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability." The act prohibits any homosexual or bisexual person from disclosing his or her sexual orientation, or from speaking about any homosexual relationships, including marriages or other familial attributes, while serving in the United States armed forces. The policy also requires that as long as gay or bisexual men and women in the military hide their sexual orientation, commanders are not allowed to investigate their sexuality. The net effect of this policy is that the military does not take an official stance against gay or bisexual desire; one must engage in open homosexual acts to commit a punishable offense.
It was a compromise reached in 1993 between the Clinton administration and the military over gays serving in the military. One of President Clinton's campaign platforms was his insistence to allow all citizens regardless of sexual orientation to serve openly in the military. This was a compromise between the military which had long standing rules against all acts of homosexuality. It is a policy that most elites in the MSM have come to despise. (as indicated by this column)
Today Congress is holding its first hearing in 15 years on the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy barring bisexuals, gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. The hearings, called by a House Armed Services subcommittee, are likely to be more notable for the fact that they are being held at all rather than anything of substance they may produce. The simple fact that the hearings are taking place offers the most
significant indication yet that the U.S. is finally reconsidering its strange policy of enforced hypocrisy that came to be called "Don't ask, don't tell." The hearings should also provide a delicate moment for Senator Barack Obama, who has said he opposes "Don't ask, don't tell" but is also reportedly considering one of its major architects, former Senator Sam Nunn, to be his running mate.
Don't ask, don't tell" was itself a misnomer, a media-friendly term that did not accurately describe the 1993 law passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by President Clinton. The law did not actually prevent the Pentagon from "asking" any service member or potential service member whether he or she is gay. The Pentagon did agree to stop asking about sexuality in recruitment forms and interviews, but it never agreed to stop investigating whether those serving in the military are gay. That's why discharges of gays did not substantially decrease after the law was enacted. Compare the period between 1986 and 1990 with the period a decade later, between 1996 and 2000. According to Randy Shilts' 1993 book Conduct Unbecoming: Gays & Lesbians in the U.S. Military, during the first period, which was prior to "Don't ask, don't tell," the Pentagon discharged 5,951 service members for being gay. During the second period, Defense Department figures show that 5,327 gays were discharged — a modest decline of 10%.
Military commanders had only to read the law to see that Congress wasn't serious about protecting gay service members. The law's text is a tissue of barely disguised bigotry. For instance, it points out that service members must "accept living conditions and working conditions that are often spartan, primitive and characterized by forced intimacy, with little or no privacy." One can forgive the historically inappropriate reference to the Spartans — fierce warriors whose loyalty to one another in no way excluded sexual relationships, and indeed may have encouraged them. But the specter of "forced intimacy" recalled the worst kind of anti-gay bigotry: the notion that gays can't control themselves or respect sexual privacy. Nunn himself led reporters and colleagues on an infamous "field hearing" into the sleeping quarters and showers of ships and submarines in May 1993. It was demeaning and schoolboyishly prurient, but as icky demagoguery, the stunt worked brilliantly.
It is certainly not an issue that will be on the frontburner of the list of policies in the next election however Barack Obama has indicated that he intends to end this policy.
Fourteen years ago, the Democratic Party faced a test of leadership, and our party failed that test. We had an opportunity to be leaders on the World stage in eliminating discrimination against gay and lesbian service members, to recognize the patriotism and heroism of the hundreds of thousands of gay and lesbian citizens who have served our country. Instead, we bowed to fear and prejudice. We were told that American soldiers weren’t ready to serve next to gay and lesbian comrades. We were told that our airmen, sailors and Marines would lose their “unit cohesion” if we implemented a policy of equality. And so, rather than embracing leadership and principle, we embraced Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — a policy that is antithetical to the values of honor and integrity that our military holds most dear. Patriotic gay and lesbian Americans are now told that they may serve their country only if they hide their true identities. They are forced to live a lie as the price of risking their lives for their country.
Fourteen years later, the United States of America lags far behind. We lag behind our military allies, who are repudiating discrimination against lesbian and gay soldiers in ever increasing numbers — in Great Britain, Canada, Israel, nearly every NATO member in Europe — all with no impact upon military readiness and performance. And our politicians lag behind the American people, who now call for the repeal of Don’t Ask,Don’t Tell in super-majority numbers. It is time for a change.
To me at least, opponents of "Don't ask don't tell" are exhibiting political correctness run amok. First, I have spent absolutely no time in the military. My agreement with "Don't ask don't tell" is based entirely on the time I have spent in sports locker rooms. Locker rooms force males of all shapes and sizes get close to other males in ways that they probably never intended. Sports teams also have one goal and one goal only, winning. This laser light approach to one goal takes discipline and focus. Now, imagine such an environment dealing with an openly homosexual
individual within their midst. Of course, when the stakes are only victory in sports that is one thing. The stakes for the military are significantly more.
Much like a sports locker room, a military barracks also forces males to get much closer to each other than anyone ever intended. The military also requires discipline and focus, only it is required in much greater quantity and quality. Currently, our military is fighting wars on two fronts. Imagine if those military barracks are then occupied by a few males that are openly gay. While we'd all like to believe that it would make no difference, I live in reality rather than the politically correct and idealized world that the MSM and Barack Obama occupy.
The military relies on discipline and having an openly gay individual within the confines of cramped barracks threatens that discipline. The unintended consequences of this well meaning but misguided position is unimaginable. A military without discipline is one that doesn't function. The job of the military is NOT to produce individuals that are tolerant of others. That is what self help and sensitivity groups are for. This policy, which would force our military to deal with issues that have nothing to do with warfare during a war, is dangerous at all times and certainly during war.