Don’t ask don’t tell is an official policy concerning homosexuals serving on the military and it is undergoing reform. This policy prohibits any form of discrimination on the grounds sexual orientation and more so prohibits any gay and lesbian serving on the military.
The policy of don’t ask don’t tell came into effect in the year 1993. It was considered a landmark law that concerned homosexuality and the US military service. This law argued that the presence of people in the military service who demonstrate an intention to be lesbians or gays would create an environment of lack of order, threat to unity cohesion and may lead to low morale and indiscipline in the military.
This policy barred any open discussion or questioning of the service members of their sexual orientation (Congressional Research Service 1).
From the times of Iraq war, there has been a debate about don’t ask don’t tell policy in the United States of America. The peak of the debate was sparked by the comments of marine general Peter Pace following his interview with the Chicago tribune. General Pace posited that homosexuality was immoral and should not be condoned in the United States of America.
Although American military believe that in one point both lesbians and gay will be allowed to serve in the military and it is just a matter of time.
The genesis of don’t tell don’t ask policy was the presidency of Bill Clinton, the only gay friendly president in USA. When Clinton assumed office, the rule barring gays from serving in the military squarely lay in the hands of the president and he could allow or ban but when he came to power pledging to ban it, he received opposition from his defense secretary and the chairman of joint chiefs (The Time 1).
Reform of don’t ask don’t tell
Recently, there have been interest in the need to reforming the law on don’t ask don’t tell policy and two bills to this effect were introduced to the 111th congress (Congressional Research Service 1). Historically, gays and lesbians were not allowed to serve in the military and it was one of the promises by presidential candidates in the 1992 campaigns.
President Clinton pledged that if elected he would lift the ban. In the year 2010, president Obama announced his desire to work with the congress in the effort to repeal this policy which he argued denied American men and women the opportunity to serve their country.
President Obama has been fighting hard to overturn this policy since he pledged to do so in his presidential campaigns. This reform will ultimately impact on the military culture and the entire homosexual community (Levi 2). He indicated it in 2009 in his speech before the human rights campaign that he will end the ban and this reform began on May 2010 with a debate between the liberals or pro reform and conservatives who wanted to maintain the status quo. The reformists finally won following the senate vote on December 2010.
On the implementation of the law
The repeal of the act could not take effect immediately since some conditions had to be satisfied. This included the president with the defense secretary and the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff certifying in writing that they have reviewed the pentagon’s report on consequences of repealing the don’t ask don’t tell policy and the necessary regulation like the readiness of the military, they should certify that the new policies are in line with the principles of military effectiveness, unit cohesion and the recruitment and the retention of forces, these requires extensive consultations (Center for American Progress 1).
The department of defense will operate under the interim policy of don’t ask don’t tell policy as the process of implementation gets underway. There have been plans to delay the implementation of don’t ask don’t tell policy repeal according to notice introduced by Representative Duncan Hunter. The implementation also entails the military being prepared in the era of don’t ask don’t tell.
There has been a debate on the pros and cons of don’t ask don’t tell policy. The pro reform American argue that the repeal of don’t ask don’t tell policy will help end discrimination in the military service.
Ending discrimination has been on top of the American nation. First, people were discriminated from joining the military on their color and then followed by women discriminated from joining military. This, according to the pro reformists amount to discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The first point of debate was that gay and lesbian ban helped preserve soldier’s privacy. Many service men and women have remained in the closet, they have served in the service while hiding about their sexual orientation, and some have even managed to serve till retirement.
Others argue that privacy is not in the military practice since some of their responsibilities are on the field and no one may seem to monitor them.
In the American military it first began with the issue of color, and then it shifted to women and now homosexuality and with all the debates, privacy has never been an issue. It is also argued that lifting the ban would enable homosexuals to come out openly and it will lead to lack of privacy in the showers.
The issue of predatory behavior has been considered an advantage of banning homosexuality. There is always a threat of someone finding another attractive in social places like clubs or showers. This reason is espoused by men who are known for their vociferous attraction towards women and they will be threatened by women invading their territory (Bateman 59).
Another justification for don’t ask don’t tell policy is the cohesion rationale. This is due to the belief that military performance will deteriorate if the homosexuals are allowed to serve in the military service.
This is because heterosexual soldiers may not like the gays and the lesbians and they can’t trust them in their daily interaction in the barracks. Also if the homosexual expose their sexual orientation both units may not be in position to function in unison due to suspicion among them.
Those who argue for the policy do so on the grounds that allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the US military will affect the morale and discipline. It will also affect unit cohesion which is detrimental to the performance of the military.
Although it is argued that allowing the gay and the lesbians to serve in the military force may lead to conflicts in the discharge of duties and command acceptability. Those commanding American forces are conservatives who are interested in the maintenance of the status quo and will discriminate against the young or new recruits who may be homosexual.
Also those against the repealing argue that it will mess up with the military. At this Unipolar era where US is the main superpower , the US and its army is considered the world policemen and allowing the homosexuals to serve in the military will negative portray the US military in bad light and may also diminish their international integrity especially if they are called upon to maintain peace in a foreign state.
Since US is a member of NATO, its army will be treated with suspicion when they are in the course of performing a joint operation (Brittany 1).
On the issue of unit cohesion, pro reform argue that there are several factors that lead to unit cohesion, these may include perfect leadership, proximity and similarity to general population. The military as an organ of government and the American society should embrace divergence and accommodate various views like diverse values and beliefs.
In conclusion, majority of the American people support the repeal of don’t ask don’t tell policy. To them America is a reforming society and any value or belief that discriminates is eliminated. It is also argued that the repeal of don’t ask don’t tell policy will help prepare the military to the dynamics of the current world and can prepare them psychologically, for example, upon retirement when they will encounter the realities of the civilian world.
The basic argument that summarizes don’t ask don’t tell policy is that it is considered as a form of discrimination and this has united the Americans in supporting its repeal.
Bateman, Godfrey. Don’t ask, don’t tell: debating the gay ban in the military. New York: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2003. Print.
Brittany, Alex. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) — To Repeal or Not to Repeal. Left Face, 2010. Web. June 08, 2011.
Burrelli, David. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. The Law and Military Policy on Same-Sex Behavior, 2010. Web. June 8, 2011.
Center for American Progress. American Progress. DADT, 2010. Web. June 08, 2011.
Congressional Research Service. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Congressional Research Service, 2011. Web. June 08, 2011.
Levi, Bennett. Is it time? Reform of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and article 125 of the uniform code of military justice, 2011. Web. June 08, 2011.
The Time. Reexamining “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. The Times, 2007. Web. June 8, 2011.