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Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue

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A University of California research center released damaging data Wednesday that questions the United States' policy against homosexuals in the military.

The Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military (CSSMM) gathered the information from the Pentagon, which showed 244 medical specialists were let go by the military during the first decade (1994 - 2003) of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".

"The consequences of shortfalls in medical specialists during wartime are serious," Dr. Aaron Belkin, director of CSSMM said. "When the military lacks the medical personnel it needs on the frontlines, it compromises the well-being not only of its injured troops, but of the overextended specialists who have to work longer tours to replace those who have been discharged."

Highly trained medical specialists, including physicians, nurses, and biomedical laboratory technicians were fired due to their sexual preferences. The military's policy has alienated skilled medical staff - in a time where they are most needed.

Senators Patrick Leahy and Christopher Bond issued a report in 2003 that detailed hundreds of injured Guard and Army Reserve soldiers "have been receiving inadequate medical attention" while housed at Ft. Stewart because of a lack of preparedness that includes "an insufficient number of medical clinicians and specialists, which has caused excessive delays in the delivery of care."

Under federal law, openly gay people are prohibited from serving in the US military. The Department of Defense (DoD) claimed that homosexuals were incompatible with military service and its values[1]. In 1981 the DOD put the policy in effect, dwarfing any chances for gays and lesbains to enter and serve in the U.S. military.

The Government Accounting Office (GAO) released a report in 1981 that showed nearly 17,000 men and women were discharged throughout the 80's because they were gay.

By 1993, then President Bill Clinton sought to find a common ground and to put an end to the debate. Clinton, along with chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA), created the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue" policy which asks that gays not discuss their sexual preference.

According Census data, in 2000 more than 36,000 gay men and lesbians were serving in active duty, representing 2.5 percent of active duty personnel.

Despite the fact that most Western industrialised societies have added provisions to allow gays and lesbians to serve with variegated degrees of openness, the U.S. has not.


[1] DOD Directive 1332.14. Date: January 28, 1982. Part 1, Section H.

ę2006 Anai Rhoads Ford.
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Anai Rhoads is a Human Rights journalist originally from Athens, Greece. Her work has been featured on several web-based newspapers and media outlets, which include ZMagazine,, and Media Monitors. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief (more...)
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