'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' propagates homophobia

By Chris Giglio

Opinions Edtor

My first year at the University, I received a call from a high school friend informing me that one of our peers had hung himself in his dorm room at the University of Pennsylvania.  Alex was smarter, more social and just an overall better person than I will ever be.  He was also gay.  Growing up in a conservative family, the pressure of hiding who he really was pushed him to the point of suicide.  It makes me sick to think of the little things I could have done to ease the pain he was feeling.  It also makes me sick to think we are currently exposing gay men and women in our military to the same type of pressure.

Since 1992 the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy has barred anyone who “demonstrate(s) a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts” from serving in the military because “it would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.” This is one of the most backwards statements I have ever heard.  Cohesion is indeed an essential part of the military, but forcing gay military personnel to hide who they are only isolates them from their comrades and impedes cohesion.

Being a soldier is probably the most stressful line of work anyone can be in.  In times of combat you fear for your life, deal with the stress of being away from your loved ones and the moral qualm between doing what is right and doing what is necessary to survive. It is unjustifiable to add even more stress to the estimated 65,000 gay servicemen and women who must worry every day about being exposed. And as this stress builds up they have nowhere to turn—they cannot talk to their comrades nor can they turn to the psychological services offered by the military.

The University of California Blue Ribbon Commission estimated that over 10 years we have spent $363.8 million discharging gays from the military.  It would be much cheaper to discharge the few soldiers who have a problem with fighting alongside competent gay soldiers. A Gallup Poll shows 79 percent of people within the 18-29 age range (the typical age of soldiers) are in favor of repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” Continuing this policy only serves to propagate homophobic behavior.

In an article you should strive to present the counter-argument of your position in the best of light.  But I can’t bring myself to support an argument which has killed a friend of mine and which puts thousands of others in a similar position.

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