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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/26/10

Another Year of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

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Over and over again we hear some politician make gestures toward repeal of Section 654 of US Code 10 to end the discrimination of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. This law has been a disaster. The treasury has been unnecessarily reduced to enforce this law costing the taxpayers and reducing the effectiveness of the armed forces with the inane discharge of needed resources. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that the taxpayer has paid between one quarter to 1.2 billion dollars in order to investigate, discharge and replace otherwise qualified Americans who are homosexual and the GAO readily admits this is an incomplete cost which is truly more. The GAO also reports in 2005 that nearly 800 critical skill specialists have been discharged under this law. In five years, it would suggest that number had continued to climb.

We have the Pentagon now seeing that the end is on the horizon with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Secretary of Defense proclaiming it is wrong, yet wanting to do some studies. Their study is expected in December. Since 1957 with the Crittenden report, the military has conducted studies about the homosexual being in the military. This study, along with others over the years, have all stated the same thing--sexual orientation is not germane in the determination of who may or may not serve in the armed forces.

The 1993 RAND report laid out the groundwork for implementing a strategy in practical and realistic terms which was consistent with the empirical research and historical experience, yet the Pentagon wants another study. The RAND report said, "Based upon the research conducted in this study, key elements of an implementation strategy were identified: (1) the message of policy change must be clear and must be consistently communicated from the top; (2) the option selected should be implemented immediately; (3) emphasis should be placed on behavior and conduct, not on teaching tolerance or sensitivity; (4) leadership must send messages of reassurance to the force; (5) leaders at all levels should be empowered to implement the policy, with special training provided if necessary; and (6) a monitoring process should be established to identify problems early in the process and to address them immediately."

It does not seem all that complicated to implement. We have efforts being made in the House with Representative Patrick Murphy leading the charge and so far 191 bipartisan co-sponsors to the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (HR 1283); and in the Senate with Senator Joe Lieberman introducing the Senate's version (S 3065) with 32 cosponsors. I think it important to note that the Senate has no bipartisan support and the House only has two minority party supporters.

Not only have over 13,500 service members have been discharged from the military since the law went into effect, the number of people who have elected not to remain in the military due to the law and the number who elect not to place themselves under this discriminatory law adds up to many more Americans affected. The courage for those who are on active duty now is great when they are forced to be quiet about their personal lives or be discharged because of who they are.

This Memorial Day is a time to commemorate those men and women who have died in service to our great Nation. It is a time of family gatherings, picnics, sports, and barbeques. But when you see the American flag at half-mast between dawn and noon or pause at 3 PM local time for a moment of remembrance, think of all the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice to serve their county including those who, by law, were forced to hide who they really were. It is time to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell now.

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After 26 years retiring from the Navy, then another 14 years as a psychotherapist retiring again, I have finally found time to be more active.
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