Tag Archives: don’t tell

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Time To Tell Goodbye?

Senator John McCain on the Larry King show insisted President Obama was embarking on a dangerous course by seeking to end the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy and emphasized the policy was “working well” and supported by the military. Some reports estimate that up to 60,000 members of the armed forces including thousands in fighting zones could be classified as either gay or lesbian. Hundreds of gays and lesbians have either been killed or wounded in combat, and at least 20,000 have been discharged because they told when they should be silent.

Frankly, I do not know if John McCain has talked to officers, but there is considerable evidence they are divided with X percent urging an end to the policy and Y percent seeking to maintain it. President Obama is absolutely correct in asking the military and Congress to examine the issue. Just remember, Senator McCain, some of the men and women who served with you in Vietnam WERE gay or lesbian.

As Senator Kirsten Gillibrand put it: “The military’s don’t ask, don’t tell policy is an unfair, outdated measure that violates the civil rights of some of our bravest, most heroic men and women.”

Senator McCain, if not now, then when?

Supreme Court May Ask And Then Tell About Gays

There is growing possibility the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy pertaining to the rights of gays to remain in the service may be headed to the Supreme Court. During the past few months courts have, essentially, ruled both ways on the issue. On June 10th, the 1st Circuit Court in Boston basically ruled the current policy was legal. Judge Jeffrey Howard speaking for the majority said: “Although the wisdom behind the statute at issue here may be questioned by some, in light of the special deference we grant congressional decision-=making in this area, we conclude that the challenges must be dismissed.” However, in late may, teh 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco, reinstated a lawsuit filed by a former Air Force m ajor after she was told she would be discharged for homosexual activity. This decision essentially denied the military power to discharge people based on their sexual orientation.

Although the 1st Circuit Court sided with the military, it urged the policy should receive “tougher judicial scrutiny” because the policy discriminates against a particular group. Given the conflicting decisions, either gays can take their desire for equity to the Supreme Court or the military can ask the court to support its right to decide military policy.

Ironically, there is growing concern within the military concerning the wisdom of the policy including a recent report by retired officers who said changes were needed to allow gays to serve. Retired General John Shalikashvili, former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff came out for repeal of the gay policy. It is time to either abandon the policy or get the Supreme Court to render its verdict on it.

Canadian Soldiers Told Don’t Look, Don’t Tell

Canadian soldiers serving in Afghanistan have been advised not to see things they witness such as sexual abuses of women and children in the country. Jean Jones, who served as a chaplain had to counsel Canadian soldiers who had witnessed terrible cases of sexual abuse at the hands of Afghan soldiers, they were not to report these incidents. A soldier told her of witnessing a young boy being raped by an Afghan soldier while an Afghan officer calmly went about his business. The Canadian said his own commanding officer had informed his troops they were not to tell what they were witnessing on the part of abusive Afghan soldiers.

Lawyers for the Canadian Department of Defence say that unless a soldier has filed a formal complaint about abuse then Canadian officials are not bound to conduct any investigation. Chaplain Jones returned home suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder based on what she had heard from Canadian soldiers about the fighting in Afghanistan. There is something very sad about this don’t see, don’t tell policy.

Repeal ‘Don’t Ask’ Policy Urges Coalition

A coalition of gay rights groups has begun a renewed assault on the military’s policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” regarding personnel who are gay and lesbian. A letter signed by 28 retired generals asked Congress to repeal the policy. “We respectfully urge congress to repeal the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy. Those of us signing this letter have dedicated their lives in defending the rights of our citizens to believe whatever they wish. As General Colin Powell former chairman of the Joint chiefs said when the..policy was enacted, it is not the place of the military or those in senior leadership to make moral judgments.” A Pentagon spokesperson said the military will adhere to policies enacted by Congress.

The time has arrived in American history to end the hypocrisy surrounding this policy and to recognize the patriotism and heroism of all those who serve regardless of sexual orientation. As the letter writers correctly note, it is not the responsibility of those in command to inquire into the personal sexual beliefs of those who serve the nation.