During his 1992 presidential election campaign, Bill Clinton courted the support of leaders in the gay community by pledging to change the longstanding military policy of prohibiting homosexuals from service. One he was elected, the queer community was outraged as new laws and regulations went into effect known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”compromise holds that open homosexuality presents an unacceptable risk to morale, cohesion and discipline. Gays, however, would be allowed to serve provided they do not discuss their sexual orientation, speak out in favor of homosexuality, or enter into any relationships with members of the same sex. In turn, the military ended the administrative practice of asking recruits about their sexual orientation.
Fourteen years later, during the first debates of the presidential primaries, all of the Democratic candidates said they support eliminating “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and allowing gays to serve openly in the military. Every Republican candidate has stated their opposition to a change in the policy.
Is it time to re-evaluate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?” As the army struggles to reach its enlistment goals and the war in Iraq rages on, should the military continue to enforce a policy which disqualifies much-needed recruits? Would a change prompted by low numbers send the message that gays are good enough to serve only because others won’t?
Has there been a shift in public attitude towards presence of gays in military? Is this a debate between the rights of gays to serve and the rights of non-gays to be protected from forced intimacy with people who may be sexually attracted to them? Does the presence of gays affect the morale, cohesion and discipline of troops currently serving? Is homosexuality incompatible with military service?
Join us this week as we discuss the presence of gays in the military.
For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.