Friday, February 5, 2010

We Always Forget About the Don't Ask

With the President'a announcement that he wanted to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the American people have focused on the injustice they feel was caused by the measure. They focus on the fact that homosexuals could not serve openly in the military and that they could be discharged for displaying "homosexual conduct." I agree with those who want to allow people to be able to serve in the military without hiding their sexual orientation. If one is gay and wants to defend my country, I don't care as long as they are able to perform their duties. In the words of the late Senator Barry Goldwater, "You don't have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight."

That said, as we focus on the issue of "injustice" we forget that this policy was put in place for more than one reason. The "Don't Tell" part is the easy one to focus on - but we often forget about the "Don't Ask." In addition to putting it in place to maintain the norms of the military and compromise with the conservative establishment, it was also put in place to protect homosexual people. How? It prevented people from prying and asking about ones sexual orientation. You are not allowed to harass or question someone if you suspect them of being homosexual - hence the "Don't Ask."

Privacy is important as there are some people who may be uncomfortable and act inappropriately around someone who is openly gay. The "Don't Ask" provisions allowed a person to maintain their private life as private as they desire. What we need to remember is that these protections, these measures implemented to allow people to keep to themselves and not be harassed, must be included in whatever modification is made to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policies.

I really don't have anything else to say on the topic. As I stated at the beginning, I have no problem with revoking this policy. My only hope is that whatever new policies are implemented that we as a people remember that each person has the right to not talk about their private lives. They should not be required to answer questions about their sexual orientation and, frankly, should not be asked. If we get rid of the "Don't Tell" and allow gay military personnel to serve as openly as they wish, let remember to "Not Ask" and allow people be as private as they want to be.

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