After much anticipation, the attempt to repeal the 1993 legislation entitled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was defeated by a filibuster this last Tuesday.
Lead by Arizona Senator John McCain, the filibuster prevented the repeal, needing 60 votes and only gaining 43. The annulment also halted movement with the DREAM ACT, which would help illegal aliens gain citizenship after serving in the armed forces or attending a university for two years.
The failure to repeal the current legislation was devastating to not only the homosexuals serving, but to the gay community. The 17 year old law will continue to strip current and former honorable soldiers of their titles and benefits, forcing some veterans into debt.
On September 23, the White House and the Department of Justice filled to challenge Congress’s actions, or lack thereof. The debate will continue, but it will be a slow moving process. President Obama ensured citizens that he would end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in his first State of the Union address. Partisanship and conflicting ideologies have slowed this process in Congress for quite some time now.
Rainbow Alliance member and former Marine Sarah Garnett believes that many individuals in the young gay community harbor more anger than they should in regards to the issue. There are many misconceptions surrounding the grounds of discharge from the services. According to Garnett, young homosexuals in the armed forces do not openly share their orientation, and they are not discharged unless clear evidence is brought to the attention of older officials.
Although over 13,500 young gays and lesbians have been released from services, there has been much more controversy with openly gay veterans or older officials being discharged or losing their titles, benefits and other hard earned honors.
“There is definitely a generation gap,” said Garnett. “It is the older officers that seem to have a problem with homosexuality, while others serving from this generation are much more accepting,”
There is, in fact, a clear generation gap. According to the Service Members Legal Defense Network, 73% of militarily personal are tolerant of homosexuals in the services, and they do not associate one’s orientation with their ability to perform their duties adequately. This new statistic may give hope for looming tolerance and, moreover, the future abolishment of such restrictive regulations. “It takes baby steps,” said Garnett. Parkside’s Rainbow Alliance supported the repeal that they hoped would take place last week; however, they are now focusing their time on other projects. The organization is planning an event for “National Coming out Day”, scheduled to take place October 11 at noon in the Den.