High time to lift the ban

Admiral Mike Mullen, America’s top military commander, announced in a Senate hearing that openly gay personnel should be permitted to serve in the U.S.

military, BBC News reported Feb. 2.

In the Feb. 2 Senate hearing, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced his intention to conduct a policy review concerning how to lift the ban on openly homosexual troops.

U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged to revoke the 1993 “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which holds that engaging in any homosexual conduct is just cause for dismissal from the military. Since then, over 10,900 troops have been let go due to their sexual orientation.

It’s upsetting the U.S. forces continue to systematically exclude personnel who are openly gay. Especially considering U.S. forces are currently involved in two major combat operations, they can’t afford to deny any willing troops.

The ban’s only merits are to reduce potential distraction for soldiers and to quash the mockery that might be associated with coming out as a homosexual in the army. But it’s high time to repeal the archaic ban that makes the American military seem discriminatory and homophobic.

Being unable to discuss one’s personal life or romantic partner with colleagues out of the fear of being expelled from the army is unnecessarily burdensome.

The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was considered progressive when it was implemented by Bill Clinton in 1993, but times and social perceptions have changed for the better. The U.S. military is taking a necessary and positive step towards equity.

Pledging to repeal the ban on gay troops was one of Obama’s main mandates when elected, and it’s encouraging his State of the Union speech last week touched on the topic. But the fact it took him a year to address the issue is disheartening.

It’s also surprising a plan to revoke the ban on gay personnel in the military is still a contentious issue. Equity regardless of sexual orientation is a mandate that shouldn’t have to be argued. In any other industry, it’s unlikely a similar level of debate on the issue of homosexual rights would exist.

Banning openly gay troops from the U.S. forces is an outdated mentality and it’s time the ban were overturned. Just because an individual is gay doesn’t make him or her any less of a soldier.

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