With the issue of gay marriage caught in the court system, gay rights activists are preparing for another battle against the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy in the military.
Even though an estimated 66,000 thousand gays, lesbians and bisexuals are currently serving in the military, the issue of openly gay military service remains taboo.
Since the birth of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Military Personnel Eligibility Act of 1993, more than 12,000 service men and women have been dismissed from duty due to their sexual orientation.
President Obama is currently working alongside Defense Secretary Robert Gates to repeal the congressional regulations. With each congressional hearing the gay community is one step closer to equal freedoms.
The stereotyping of gays in the media has only fed the ill-informed fury of homophobia surrounding gay rights issues.
Lifting the restrictions on openly gay service in the military will not turn our armed forces into a rainbow flag-waving group of toy soldiers. Gays and lesbians who currently serve and wish to serve are held to the same standards and level of professionalism as straight male and female counterparts. With thousands of gays and lesbians already serving in the military, the transition will not be as dramatic as feared.
After admitting he was gay on national television last year, local national guardsman Lt. Dan Choi was tried for dismissal from military service last week. “The fact you have to hide an important part of your life is damaging,” said Choi in an article in the Orange County Register. “I was proof of that for 10 years and now I’m proof of the positive impact.”
Choi’s dedication to his unit and to his country is not affected by his open sexuality. Choi is a living proof that the military can be a place for gay and straight people to serve together successfully and with respect for each other.
Why are gay Americans treated like a separate part of society whose laws and restrictions are considered apart from the others? Does our very own Declaration of Independence not say that all men are created equal? Does it not also guarantee us certain unalienable rights that must be protected from governmental control? The ability to serve in the military is a personal choice, not a right granted by Congress.
As Americans we have the ability to change these laws that restrict our fellow citizens. By voting for certain representatives and initiatives, we can move hand-in-hand with our neighbors towards a future of tolerance.
Our society needs to abolish its negative stereotypes about homosexuality and allow every American an equal chance to express themselves and have the same opportunities to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.