Friday, July 11, 2008

Washington Post: The Beginning of the End of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

The Washington Post weighs in this morning with its latest editorial calling on Congress to repeal the federal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law banning gay troops. The Post has called for an end to the law more than a dozen times, and you can see past editorials from the paper online here, here and here.

This morning, the paper points out that the law impacts service personnel in many different ways. "They don't seek medical attention or religious counsel for fear of being outed," the editorial board notes.

But the long arm of this law doesn't just stop there.

Service members are also forbidden to take advantage of civilian laws providing legal recognition to their relationships. Troops who enter into civil unions or domestic partnerships - or who marry in Massachusetts or California - are subject to dismissal under the law. And "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" presents a significant obstacle for LGBT personnel with children, who find it difficult, if not impossible, to enroll their family members in the military benefits system, which in turn denies them the benefits they have worked so hard to earn.

Indeed, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is one of the most anti-family laws on the books today.

"Calls for junking 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' or reexamining its usefulness have become more frequent and have been issued from lofty quarters," the paper concludes in its editorial today. "Retired Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when the law was implemented. He spoke against it last year. And just last month, former Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), who led hearings that resulted in the disastrous plan that continues to run gay men and lesbians out of the armed forces (at least 627 in 2007; about 12,500 since 1993), said that the law should be reexamined. That reexamination should be the beginning of the end of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'"

We couldn't agree more. It's long past time to allow America's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens the opportunity to serve if they choose. And it's time to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell's" assault on our families, too.

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