Lobbying Against "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Blog Post #5

For Blog #1, click here
For Blog #2, click here
For Blog #3, click here 
For Blog #4, click here

On December 18th, Congress finally passed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, a process that has taken many months to complete.  Democrats overcame the omnipresent threat of Republican filibuster and passed the bill by a vote of 65-31.  Eight Republicans voted “Aye,” including Richard Burr (NC), who although not in favor of the timing, believed that “this policy is outdated and repeal is inevitable.”  The repeal also marked an historic day for President Obama, who ran under the promise of repeal.
In the press conference before signing the bill into law, he stated, “With any change there is some apprehension.  That’s natural. But as Commander-in-Chief, I am certain that we can affect this transition in a way that only strengthens our military readiness.“  Now that Congress has fulfilled its duty, it is time to initiate the next steps.  However, the attitude among many is “Now what? We’ve repeal the discriminatory policy, but how can we even begin to change it?”

The answer seems to still be unclear even for the Department of Defense, who claim to be working as diligently, yet as quickly as possible.  Sec. Robert M. Gates explained the process that the military plans to follow.  “I see this as a three-step process. The first is to finalize changes in regulations [and] policies [and] get clearer definition on benefits. The second phase is to prepare training materials for use by personnel specialists, chaplains, commanders and other leaders, and those who are in daily contact with service members. My hope is that [this] can be done within a matter of a very few weeks, so that we can then move on to what is the real challenge, which is providing training to 2.2 million people.”

Regardless of how long this process takes, there are still provisions in the legislation that requires a 60-day waiting period, even after the plan is approved by Gates, Obama and Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, before the law is no longer in effect.  Contrary to popular belief, “now is not the time to ‘come out,’” Mullen recently stated.

The main issue is actually acceptance.  If every soldier was content with serving alongside a homosexual, there would be no need to retrain our military.  What the Department of Defense needs to focus on is adopting a more accepting nature within the military and surrounding it.  Since the birth of this country, military service was allotted to the “strong, masculine, courageous” patriot.  However, this has slowly changed with the inclusion of women and soon, of homosexuals.  We are no longer in colonial times, and as a country we need to realize this.  Our military is only as strong as the average Americans’ support behind it.  More than those actually fighting, it is the citizens at home who need to be trained.  

On January 8th, I tuned into iPower 92.1, a radio station in Richmond, VA, as the host discussed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the public’s response to it.  I listened as people ranted about Christianity’s intolerance of homosexuals and condemned our country for allowing them to serve.  One caller claimed that forcing heterosexuals to serve alongside homosexuals denied them of their own rights.  “What if they are uncomfortable with it?” he asked.  

I later called in with one answer.  “As members of the military, it is their job to protect this country, regardless about how they feel about those serving alongside them.  There are simply more important issues.  I know that I am not brave or patriotic enough to risk my life , and I will always be indebted to anyone who is.  Gay or straight, male or female.”  To the religious callers, I referenced the Constitution, which established the separation of church and state.  “Quite simply, religion can not and should not impede our safety.”  

As I wrap up my blogging, I want to end by quoting President Obama at the signing.  “We are not a nation that says, ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.’  We are a nation that says, ‘Out of many, one.’” The repeal has been passed and it is only a matter of time before homosexuals are legally permitted in the military.  My only hope is that soon, they will be accepted into it as well.