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Proposed Policy Change Re-ignites Debate over Gays in US Military


A recent study estimates 66,000 homosexuals currently serve -- about two percent of the total in uniform.

A recent study estimates 66,000 homosexuals currently serve -- about two percent of the total in uniform.

Should gays be allowed to openly serve in the US military? Recent efforts by the Obama Administration to overturn “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” a 17-year-old policy that prohibits gays from serving openly, have resulted in a controversial debate.

Should gays be allowed to openly serve in the US military? Recent efforts by the Obama Administration to overturn “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” a 17-year-old policy that prohibits gays from serving openly, have resulted in a controversial debate. It pits those who believe gays undermine morale and disrupt cohesion against those who believe discharging soldiers because of their sexual orientation is a violation of civil rights. On VOA’s April 4, 2010 Encounter Program Michael Bowman, VOA correspondent and senior news analyst, and Elaine Donnelly, founder and president of the Center for Military Readiness, spar over the proposal to change the current policy.

Donnelly (left) supports the current law Section 654, Title 10, U.S.C., which states that homosexuals are not eligible to serve in the military. However, she opposes “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” the administrative policy that circumvents the law by, in effect, allowing gays to serve as long as they do not reveal their sexual orientation. “There is no positive case for repeal of this law.” Moreover, she is in favor of an unambiguous policy of barring homosexuals from serving in the military which would discourage them from enlisting in the first place..

Bowman (right), who reports on national issues for VOA and who cast himself in the role of surrogate, says many in the gay community believe that a repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is necessary for homosexuals to serve honestly in an organization that stresses integrity, honesty, and personal valor. “Telling them they cannot serve openly is, in effect, forcing them to lie; forcing them to violate the very core of military service,” he says.

Of the twenty six countries that participate militarily in NATO, twenty two allow homosexuals to serve. Bowman says the countries which do not allow homosexuals to serve are Saudi Arabia, Iran, Cuba, and North Korea. “[This is] not a list of countries that the U.S. would want to add itself too,” he said.

Donnelly shoots back by saying that the differing policies are due to the differing military methods between European countries and the United States. “If we wanted to “Europeanize” the American armed forces, sure we could do that,” she says. “But they’re not role models for the United States.”

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Donnelly (left) supports the current law Section 654, Title 10, U.S.C., which states that homosexuals are not eligible to serve in the military. However, she opposes “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” the administrative policy that circumvents the law by, in effect, allowing gays to serve as long as they do not reveal their sexual orientation. “There is no positive case for repeal of this law.” Moreover, she is in favor of an unambiguous policy of barring homosexuals from serving in the military which would discourage them from enlisting in the first place.
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