STAFF EDITORIAL | Outdated military law limits freedoms

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted to not move forward with debates over the National Defense Authorization Act, which contains legislation that would repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

“Don’t ask, don’t tell,” a law passed in 1993 that bars U.S. military members from disclosing their sexual preference, has become the center of hot debate recently—especially since a federal judge in California ruled the law a violation of due process and First Amendment rights on Sept. 9.

The situation was most recently brought to the public’s attention by Lady Gaga at the MTV Video Music Awards, Sept. 12. The pop star was escorted by members of the United States Army who were discharged or left on the grounds of “don’t ask, don’t tell” because they are homosexual.

Lady Gaga has been outspoken on the issue, speaking at numerous rallies, including an event in Portland, Maine on Monday. Event organizers hoped to garner the necessary support in the Senate. The House voted to repeal the law in mid-May.

We at The Butler Collegian believe that discharging United States servicemen and women based on their sexual orientation is outdated and morally corrupt.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” intrudes on servicemember’s right to personal freedom. Members of the U.S. armed forces have been forced to conceal  their personal lives in the presence of other servicemen. It is time for this to end.

According to the Servicemembers’ Legal Defense Network, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is a law mandating discharge of openly gay, lesbian or bisexual service members.”

Passed in 1993 by Congress, the ban has affected many members of the U.S. armed forces.

“More than 13,500 service members have been fired under the law since 1994,” the SLDN reported.

Thousands of servicemembers are discharged because they choose to disclose their sexual identity.

In a country that prides itself on personal freedoms, why would we limit the freedom of those who are sacrificing their lives to defend our nation?

This is not only an issue of personal freedom, but of tolerance.

We are taught so often to tolerate those around us but we cannot extend that tolerance to whomwe owe it most.

“Discrimination of any sort, is not only against the military codes and all our traditions and our values, but it’s against America,” Army Lt. Dan Choi said in an interview on Southern California Public Radio. Choi was discharged on the grounds of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The continuation of this law decreases the level of tolerance and respect for openly gay service members.

Though we understand people living in close quarters may feel uncomfortable knowing their roommates sexual orientation, in no way should that information be grounds for discrimination.

It seems there is hope for the repeal of the law.

Riverside California U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips ruled on Sept. 9 that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is unconstitutional.

We should accept  a level of tolerance and professionalism  from all members of the armed forces.

“The act discriminates based on the content of speech being regulated,” Phillips said.

In a country where freedom is our main priority, it should be equally provided to everyone—especially those who fight for these freedoms everyday. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is an outdated, unconstitutional law that serves no real purpose in our military.

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