The biggest military news in recent weeks has been whether the Armed Forces would do away with its 'don't ask, don't tell' policy. Instituted by the Clinton Administration in the '90s, it was intended as a compromise between those who felt gays and lesbians had no business in the military and those who thought they had every right to service.
With the election of President Barack Obama, many gay rights groups believed the era of 'don't ask, don't tell' was coming to an end. Under the Obama Administration, it was thought that homosexuals would be able to openly serve in all branches of the military. However, two years into the President's first term, and the policy still stands.
The Debate Surrounding 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'
Those who believe the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy should still stand believe that it continues to serve its purpose well. It allows gays and lesbians the opportunity to serve their country while eliminating any possibility that their sexual orientation will be a distraction in battle.
General James Amos, the new Marine Corps Commandant, summed up his reservations to lifting the policy when speaking to the Associated Press. In a news article, he was quoted as saying, 'There is nothing more intimate than young men and young women' and when you talk of infantry, we're talking about our young men laying out, sleeping alongside of one another, and sharing death, fear, and loss of brothers. General Amos continued, don't know what the effect of that will be on cohesion. I mean, that's what we're looking at. It's unit cohesion; it's combat effectiveness.
Meanwhile, opponents of the policy argue that an individual's sexual preference has no bearing on his or her ability to serve capably in the military. In addition, homosexuality is culturally widespread in America and should not be a distraction to others in the unit. As some supporters of lifting the policy have said, gays and lesbians do not enter the military to find a dating service. They simply want to participate in the military without having to hide a significant part of their personal identity.
What the Future Holds for Don't Ask, Don't Tell
The Pentagon has been studying the issue and is expected to release its findings in early December. According to some top officials, it is not a question of whether the policy will be lifted but rather how it will be lifted. Over in Congress, legislators have lined up on both sides of the debate as military personnel wait in limbo for those in charge to make up their minds.
After 27 years, the don't ask, don't tell policy is getting its first serious review. Whether it comes from Congress or from the Pentagon, changes to the policy could mark a new era for the Armed Forces.
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