Mon, 07 Mar 2005

From: Jawawa

Gays in the armed forces

The Pentagon policy on gays in the military, known as "don't ask, don't tell," isn't working. It hurts recruitment, impedes retention and costs too much. That's the conclusion of last week's Government Accountability Office report that underlines the need to rethink this 12-year-old policy.

The report found that the Pentagon had to spend at least US$191 million to recruit and train replacements for some 9,500 soldiers discharged for their sexual orientation. Of that number, the GAO said, 750 held critical occupations in the military, including translators with skills in languages such as Arabic and Korean that are vital to existing U.S. security concerns.

Most of the discharged personnel wanted to remain in the service. More important, there is no evidence that they were causing problems. They ran afoul of the service rules because their sexual orientation became known, which, under the policy, is forbidden.

Perhaps "don't ask, don't tell" made sense at one time, relaxing the rule that banned homosexuality altogether. It makes no sense today. The policy should be repealed, and men and women who want to serve their country in the armed forces should be allowed to do so without regard to sexual orientation. -- The Miami Herald, Miami, Florida