Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t work

By Eric Naing

After U. S. Army recruiter Sgt. Marcia Ramode learned that Corey Andrew was not only black but also gay, she told him that “being gay is disgusting and immoral” and that he should “go back to Africa and do your gay voodoo limbo tango and wango dance and jump around and prance and run all over the place half naked there.” As shocking as her comments are, the sad truth is that minus the Africa voodoo stuff, her sentiment is shared by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

When asked about the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of banning gays and lesbians from serving in the military, the chairman in question, Gen. Peter Pace, responded, “I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts.” He also said “I would not want (acceptance of gay behavior) to be our policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with somebody else’s wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior.”

What is surprising about Pace’s comment is that his reasoning for supporting a ban on gays in the military is so blatant. Supporters of the policy usually hide behind the unsubstantiated argument that lifting the ban on gays in the armed services will somehow hurt troop morale and unit cohesion.

So in a perverse way, Gen. Pace should be applauded for openly admitting that the real reason some support “don’t ask, don’t tell” is pure homophobia.

If homosexuality is immoral, then surely committing a felony is too. So if you follow Gen. Pace’s logic, the Pentagon should also not allow felons to join the armed services. Surprisingly, Time Magazine reports that under the military’s moral waiver program, the number of convicted felons joining the military has doubled from 2003 to 2006.

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    The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is not only morally wrong, but it also is hurting the military. How does it make sense for a military that is stuck in two brutal wars and is hurting for new recruits to dismiss badly needed soldiers just because they are gay? Salon.com reports that the Pentagon is so desperate for more soldiers that aside from lowering recruitment standards and recruiting convicted felons, it is redeploying troops back to Iraq who have been classified as “medically unfit to fight.”

    The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network reports that “don’t ask, don’t tell” has forced more than 9,000 people out of the military. That’s almost half a troop surge. And it is not only soldiers in combat who are being discharged. At a time when troops are struggling to communicate with Iraqis and Afghans, the Pentagon has discharged army linguists trained to speak Arabic for violating “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

    A recent Newsweek poll shows that 63 percent of American believe gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military. More surprisingly, a recent Zogby poll shows that 73 percent of troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are “personally comfortable interacting with gays and lesbians.”

    “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is a broken policy. It not only denies the military badly needed soldiers, but it also fails at its goal of banning gays and lesbians. The same Zogby poll of service members shows that 23 percent of U.S. troops say they know for sure that someone in their unit is a homosexual.

    A landmine blew off Sgt. Eric Alva’s leg making him the first injured soldier in Iraq. He was awarded the Purple Heart by President Bush. He is also gay.

    The military desperately needs more men and women like Sgt. Alva. Regrettably, “don’t ask, don’t tell” prevents many from even having a chance to prove themselves.

    Gen. Pace is entitled to his personal beliefs, but the facts show America and the military are ready to lift the ban on homosexuals.