Monday, February 9, 2009

"A Propitious Moment for Seeking Change"

Add Owen West to the list of military veterans who are ready to see "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" end. The Iraq war vet, who served two tours of duties in the war zone with the Marines, writes in today's New York Times that the time has come to repeal the ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual troops in the armed forces.

"[S]ix years of war have clarified priorities," West writes on the paper's op-ed page. "The battlefield has its own values, starting with courage. Sexual orientation falls somewhere below musical taste. What a person chooses to do back stateside, off-duty, in his own apartment is irrelevant in a fight. For months I lived with 12 other American advisers on an Iraqi outpost. There was a single shower next to a hole that masqueraded as a sewer. But the reality of combat dominated personality quirks - nobody wondered about sexual orientation."

It is time, West says in his piece, for President Obama to move forward on his pledge to support repeal.

"The lesson for President Obama is that this fight is not about rights, but about combat readiness," he writes. "This is a propitious moment for seeking change: a nation at war needs all its most talented troops."

We couldn't agree more . . . and West is in good company. Other high-ranking veterans, such as retired Army Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy and retired Colonel (and PFLAG dad) Dan Tepfer have also called for repeal. And, as West points out, "Maj. Gen. Thomas Bostick, the head of Army recruiting, said the revelant question in considering [recruits'] applications was, 'Does that person deserve an opportunity to serve their country?' That's exactly right."

And West is exactly right, too. Now, more than ever, the American people and - more and more - our men and women in uniform all support open service. And our new commander-in-chief should, too.

To read West's full op-ed, click here.

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