By Kevin Nix, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
Here's a question: If American service members who happen to be gay or lesbian want to go hunt down and kill Al Qaeda, why are we stopping them? Under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, this is what we're doing. The arcane law must go, and the reasons for repeal are-despite conventional wisdom-based on core conservative principles.
First and foremost, national security. Continuing to kick gay people out of the armed forces-now approaching 13,000-because they're gay certainly is not in the best interests of national security. We need all the qualified linguists and intelligence analysts we can get right now to fight international terrorism, be it here at home or abroad in Afghanistan or Pakistan. We're hindering our counterterrorism and human intelligence gathering capability.
Second, a stronger military leads to a stronger America. Right now, there is a large pool-- in the thousands--of men and women who are ready, willing, and able to go fight and win America's wars. About 600 are discharged every year, on top of the estimated 4,000 or so each year who would sign up but can't. It was reported the other day that General David McChrystal is expected to request at least another 10,000 troops for Afghanistan. The Financial Times reports Gen. McChrystal could even be planning to ask for as many as 30,000 more.
Third, individual freedom must be preserved. As former Vice President and Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney likes to say, "Freedom means freedom for everyone." Gay service members should be free to say, or not, what they did over the weekend. (Under current law, they can't say they went to a movie with their lifelong partner.) They, like their straight counterparts, should have the freedom to serve their country without having to lie. They should be able to wake up every day knowing the government won't intervene and fire them just for being gay.
Polling shows us a majority of conservatives are on board with repeal. Fifty-eight percent told Gallup this past June that gays and lesbians should be able to serve their country openly. A Washington Post/ABC News poll last year concluded 64 percent of all conservatives and all Republicans supported open service. Compared with their views in 1993, conservatives, independents, whites, Republicans and men all have moved from minority to majority support for gays serving openly.
Conservative folks have spoken, so what's the hang up among Republican members of Congress in supporting legislation to end DADT (HR 1283)?
The DADT law must go now. We're engaged in two wars and need to recruit and retain all qualified manpower. As Republican Barry Goldwater noted decades ago, you don't have to be straight to shoot straight. And gay service members, just like their straight friends, are professionals. They are giving up their lives to make you and me safe.
08-13-09 By Kevin Nix, Director of Communications |