‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal proven effective

Columnist and Columnist

Everyone, we survived. The world did not end, and the United States’ Armed Forces does not look like a song by the Village People.

While I remove my tongue from my cheek let me clarify that I am referring to the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), a law which prohibited gay, lesbian and bisexual soldiers from serving openly in the military.

Nearly a year has passed since the congressional bill was approved and the first comprehensive academic study (completed by the Palm Center) has revealed that there has been “no overall negative impact on military readiness” or components like troop cohesion, recruitment, morale or harassment.

You heard that right: the military has faced no net loss in morale, recruitment, retention and even though men and women are now able to openly serve, there has been no massive disclosure of sexual orientations. The Armed Forces are running as smoothly as ever.

In fact, the study has found that the repeal has increased respect and understanding for lesbian, gay and bisexual soldiers, much to the dismay of socially conservative lawmakers.

However, critics of the study have cited the time frame as being too small to see any real negative effects of the repeal of DADT. With this in mind, I would propose that “[the] most substantial report on the implications of gay service in the military across five countries with nondiscriminatory policies — Britain, Canada, Australia, South Africa and Israel — concluded that openly gay soldiers do not disrupt unit cohesion and effectiveness.”

Using the Israeli military, which requires mandatory service of all citizens, as a case study the long-term effects of LGB integration into the military can be viewed. A study from the International Society of Political Psychology found that while many soldiers were unaware of gay soldiers in their units when one was aware the units’ social cohesion was no different then when unaware.

Now that the claim of the study’s time length is properly refuted, why are mainstream conservative movements still denouncing and calling for the reimplementation of the discriminatory policy? I’ll give you a hint: in the last sentence “discriminatory” is the key word.

It’s no big secret that the Republican party is not very inclusive toward members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community and when looking at the proponents campaigning for a reinstatement of DADT they tend to fall far right on the political spectrum. The views they perpetuate are misinformed with prejudice causing a cognitive dissonance between what they want to be true and what the facts actually show.

Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney was a fervent opponent to the repeal though he has claimed the reinstatement would be unnecessary, according to The Advocate magazine.

Even with Romney’s assertion, the Republican National Convention approved a platform that was a bit hazy on what a Romney presidency would mean for LGB soldiers. Specifically, two passages from the GOP’s Platform made gay-rights activists cringe, stating, “We reject the use of the military as a platform for social experimentation” and will conduct an “objective and open-minded review of the current Administration’s management of military personnel policies and will correct problems with appropriate administrative, legal or legislative action.”

The Platform also maintains that the Defense of Marriage Act will be maintained in the military as well as at home, but that’s another matter entirely. Gov. Romney may have claimed the restoration of DADT is unnecessary, but given his record of flip-flopping I, along with many others concerned with military inclusiveness, am not convinced.

Regardless of any biases, one holds toward LGB people, the facts are plain to see; openly serving as gay, lesbian, or bisexual in the United States’ Armed Forces has no negative effects on the troops and claiming anything more is rejecting reason for willful ignorance.

I’m confident that anyone taking up the mantle of a soldier is a courageous and strong individual, and regardless of who they are emotionally, physically or spiritually attracted to, they have the betterment of their Nation and the world at heart.

In closing, I would like to reflect on the epitaph of Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, which illustrates the consequences of DADT, “When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”

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