"I Don't Care If You Ask, I'm Going to Tell"


If I walked up to you and said, "Don't ask, don't tell," what would your first response be? Most would simply oblige and leave it at that. Yet for others, this would spark a highly controversial discussion of U.S. military policy on the sexual preferences of its troops and whether or not they have, or can have, the ability to serve in the armed forces as openly gay men and women.

The policy, which is officially known as "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue," and is also commonly referred to as DADT, was introduced as a compromise measure in 1993 by former President Bill Clinton to allow homosexuals to serve in the military, although not openly.

Until then, it was law under Department of Defense Directive 1332.14 that no homosexuals would be allowed to serve in the military. The basis of this law was the belief that homosexuals "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."

This law against military service by homosexuals was passed by Congress in 1950 as part of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or UCMJ. It was soon thereafter signed by then President Harry S. Truman, making it "illegal" for homosexuals to serve in the military, openly or not.

Personally, I believe that being homosexual or heterosexual does not affect one's capabilities. Whether a man is gay or straight does not affect how well he can aim a gun, his ability to problem solve, or what he is willing to sacrifice for his country. In the same way, whom I choose to date does not affect my ability to succeed in school or my chosen career. They are separate issues.

I think it is clear that a man who is capable of serving should be allowed to serve, regardless of his sexuality. But to be honest, I'm not sure how that would affect "unit cohesion," since I haven't served in the military.

However, my boyfriend, Joshua Burch, served in the Marine Corps for four years, from 2001 until 2005, and he believes the issue is irrelevant to him.

"I could care less, to be honest," Burch said. "I knew guys in the corps who were gay and competed in drag competitions on the weekends."

His grandfather, Paul Newton, served in the Navy during the 1950s. When asked about gays in the military, he had a similar viewpoint.

"Oh, sure, there were homosexuals," Newton said. "No one really cared, though. They did their job and we did ours."

For Burch and Newton, sexual orientation was a non-issue while they were serving. They may just be liberal, but I think they signify a changing sentiment in American society. As society becomes more accepting of homosexuals in general, it may be time for the military to catch up.

The military prides itself on traditional values, one of which is truth. With DADT still in effect, the military essentially asks for some soldiers to lie, which is completely hypocritical.

According to an Associated Press article published this past Wednesday, top Pentagon leaders stated that gay troops serving openly would not harm the military's ability to fight. Hopefully this finding will help repeal this intolerable law.

E-mail: ajmaier@buffalo.edu