Don't Ask, Don't Tell: If the Senate Won't End It, the Courts Will

Julie Marsh

On December 9, the Senate voted once again not to repeal the military policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- even after a DOD-commissioned study found that the overwhelming majority of troops and their dependents supported the repeal or were neutral.

They disregarded testimony from the top military and civilian leaders -- Secretary of Defense Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen -- in favor of retaining a discriminatory policy that forces troops to betray the integrity that our military holds as a core value. Because senators like John McCain insist the policy works, and senators like Saxby Chambliss fear that if homosexual troops serve openly, good order and discipline will disintegrate into alcohol, adultery, and body art.

In addition to these delusions harbored by bigoted and ignorant senators, they're also neglecting the warning shots fired by troops who have been discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The senate may consider this matter closed, but the courtroom battles have just begun.

Another lawsuit was filed yesterday in US District Court in San Francisco on behalf of three discharged troops, including my friend, former Air Force Major Mike Almy. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network noted that "if [the Senate doesn't] act to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell the courts could step in and order an integration timetable that is less to the Pentagon's liking."

Secretary of Defense Gates cautioned the Senate of the very same potential outcome during his testimony when the study results were released, and again last Friday after the repeal was voted down.

I'm never in favor of the courts acting in a legislative capacity. I don't want this decision to come down to the courts. That's not in the best interest of our military, and it sets a harmful precedent. But when our legislators fail to acknowledge the unconstitutionality of a law, it's up to the courts to set them straight.

Apparently Senate Republicans care far more about partisan politics than they do about the good of the military. They won't listen to military leaders or military troops or the American people. They claim to be concerned about the impact of open service on military readiness, but they're willing to let the timetable fall to the courts rather than recognize the inevitable: Don't Ask, Don't Tell will be repealed. They are not only bigoted and ignorant, but they are failing to lead -- utterly inexcusable behavior among those who were elected to do just that.


Image via Jeff Sheng

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