Guest post by Randall Ryder
Legal counsel for United States top military officer recommend the Pentagon delay a request to Congress to repeal the ban on openly gay military service officers. In 1993, the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy was passed amidst some controversy. The 1993 ban prohibits individuals who are openly gay from serving in the nation’s military. President Obama pledged to repeal the ban as part of his election platform in 2008.
The legal counsel said it is not the right time to repeal the ban because "The importance of winning the wars we are in, along with the stress on the force, our body of knowledge and the number of unknowns, demand that we act with deliberation." Defense Secretary Gates also noted last year that it took five years for the US to complete racial integration years ago. Other Pentagon officials, however, have allegedly stated lifting the ban is unlikely to cause unmanageable problems.
Officials opposing lifting the ban are overlooking a few compelling points. One, for gay individuals currently serving in the military, wouldn’t lifting the ban make them feel more dedicated to the position? Two, at a time when armed forces are having difficulties finding recruits, lifting the ban would seemingly make more individuals willing to serve. For openly gay individuals who are currently opposed to serving because of the ban, they may change their stance. Other individuals who oppose the ban as a denigration of human rights may also be more willing to serve.
In addition, considering the armed forces is frequently used as part of peace-keeping missions, or sent into countries to help establish democracies, lifting the ban sends a powerful message. There is some inherent hypocrisy to assisting countries in establish democracies when certain individuals are still discriminated against in the world’s largest democracy.