Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” now (Rep. Lynn Woolsey)

For those same reasons – support for the troops and obligation to our national security interests – I’m outraged by recent developments regarding
the nation’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which forbids gays and lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces. 
 
Several months ago, the House of Representatives passed a defense authorization bill that finally, at long last, put us on a path to full repeal of this appalling policy. But yet again – we’ve seen it so often during this Congress – the Senate, through the use of the filibuster, has engaged in mindless obstructionism.
 
Let’s look at the scoreboard, shall we?  The following people believe “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” must go – the President of the United States, the Chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a solid majority of the House of Representatives, and 75 percent of the American people, according to a recent poll.
 
Furthermore, a federal judge in California has ruled that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” violates both First and Fifth Amendment rights, while another federal judge ordered the reinstatement of an Air Force major who was discharged simply because she was a lesbian.
 
Despite all this momentum in favor of repeal, a stubborn minority of 42 senators (representing just 36 percent of the population), continues to stand
in the way of progress.  And at least some of them, rather than arguing the merits of the policy, are hung up on a procedural matter involving who can
offer amendments to the defense bill.
 
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is a fundamental issue of civil rights and human dignity that deserves to be taken far more seriously.  Since 1993, more than 14,000 Americans have been relieved of their duties under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  That’s about 15 people dismissed every week, their jobs taken away, their service and their honor denigrated, not because of how they performed but because of who they are.
 
I can’t think of anything less American than asking young men and women to die for our freedoms, and then not extending them those very same
freedoms.  It’s incomprehensible to me that we would ask our troops to live with secrets and shame about the core of their very identities.  And how can
an institution as devoted to truth and honor as the U.S. military enshrine and embrace a doctrine that instructs people to lie?
 
I’m fully aware that being in the military involves a subjugation of self that is unique, that makes it different than just about any other job.  But that does
not justify “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  As former Army Captain Jonathan Hopkins wrote in the New York Times: “Other soldiers don’t get enough
time with their families; I’m prohibited from having a family.”
 
Any policy that forces brave Americans to choose between serving their country and having a family is just deplorable.  Enough is enough.  It’s time
to get rid of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”