The “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” compromise policy for gays in the military was instituted 15 years ago; discharges for homosexuality remain a problem. It’s not because gays make poor soldiers, but because the military—currently engaged in two wars—is deliberately depriving itself of bright, committed service men and women. An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2011, authored by U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Penn., an Iraq veteran himself), would repeal DADT 60 days after the completion of a Defense Department study, but it’s fallen victim to homophobic inertia in the military.
Two weeks ago, a survey was sent by the Defense Department to 400,000 randomly chosen active-duty service personnel, asking if they’d share living quarters, showers and the post exchange with “known homosexuals.” Can you imagine the same question, but with words like “Jew,” “Christian,” “Muslim,” “atheist” or “racial minority” replacing “homosexual”? Can you imagine the late President Harry S. Truman and his Joint Chiefs conducting such a survey before integrating the military?
Meanwhile, the U.S. military continues to discharge perfectly good soldiers simply because they’re gay, while at the same time suffering from a chronic shortage of qualified officers and recruits during wartime. Since when did the U.S. military need a survey—and a flawed one at that—to issue orders to the troops? It’s not gay people on the battle lines (and in barracks, latrines and PX facilities) that are the problem here. The problem rests primarily with people higher up in the chain of command.