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Editorial: Days are numbered for ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

Published 12:26pm Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday, Feb. 15, 2010

Just as younger people look back curiously on the 1960s civil rights struggle from the vantage point of an era where the United States elected a black president, someday “don’t ask, don’t tell” will be seen in the hindsight the passage of time affords.

In the future gay men and lesbians will not be discriminated against in love, housing and employment or denied the right to serve in the military.

Such legal restrictions are chipping away, slowly, but surely, such as the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing where Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a Bush administration holdover, and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified in favor of striking down the Pentagon’s 1993 “don’t ask, don’t tell” sexual segregation which requires them to hide their orientation to serve.

The Pentagon ordered a review of the potential impact of this long overdue repeal of a compromise with homophobia.

“Speaking for myself and myself only,” Adm. Mullen said, “It is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do.

“No matter how I look at this issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.”

One man who will have to account for himself to history books is Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the 2008 Republican presidential nominee.

Four years ago he promised to be guided by the opinion of military leaders such as Mullen.
Now that they aren’t saying what he thought they would, the brass “deeply disappoint” him.

A former Air Force staff sergeant who came out to his commander with whom he conducted combat flight missions in Iraq in the face of small-arms fire and surface-to-air missiles, told him it had been an honor serving together, then sent him home for violating federal law.
Fortunately for Anthony Loverde, he wrote in The Washington Post, the skill set gained through his Air Force training was in high demand with defense contractors.

Within three weeks of his honorable discharge, global contractor KBR hired him as a radio repair technician and dispatched him back to Iraq.

An Army sergeant he worked with commented, “I can’t believe they are still discharging people for being gay. Don’t they know we need everyone we can get in this fight?”
The only thing that has changed about this issue in 17 years is us.

That’s progress, we’ll see someday, just as Dr. Martin Luther King’s greatness came to be embraced.

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