Editorial, Opinion

STAFF EDIT: “Change” still in the closet

He ran as the idealistic candidate and pledged to be a different kind of president. But President Barack Obama’s announcement that he will be investigating the possible effects of repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ before proposing that the law is changed shows that he is just being another politician.

Obama’s delay makes no sense. In January, his spokesman unequivocally declared that as president, Obama would end ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ If Obama has his mind made up, then why doesn’t he make the change immediately? An investigation will take months at the very least, at a time when our military is in dire straits.

The notion that Obama cannot address the issue of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ immediately because he has more important problems to worry about is absurd. Obama himself said during the campaign, ‘it’s going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once.’

To deny openly gay Americans the opportunity to serve in the military is not just unfair, but it also puts our national security at risk. The armed forces are stretched thin. 140,000 troops are still in Iraq and Obama plans to add thousands more in Afghanistan. This country needs all the volunteers it can possibly get, but is instead turning away perfectly capable soldiers.

About 12,500 U.S. servicemen and women have been discharged since the creation of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ in 1993. This number includes 57 discharged Arabic translators as of 2007, whose services are badly needed in the Middle East. There is simply no longer a justification for this outdated law. Forcing many courageous men and women to live a lie in order to serve their country is wrong. An overwhelming majority of countries in NATO allow gays to serve openly in their respective militaries. In Britain, one of these NATO countries that welcome gays in the military, the Defense Ministry says that there has been no negative impact on troop morale whatsoever as a result of their policy on gays.

Americans remember that former President Bill Clinton came into office pledging to lift the ban on gays in the military, but crumbled under the political opposition. Obama now must show that he meant what he said during the campaign instead of waiting to see which direction the political winds are blowing before he makes a decision. We expect better from the man who promised us ‘change we can believe in.’

One Comment

  1. I would have liked to see what our ROTC students have to say about this.