Monday, March 2, 2009

A Study in Contrasts on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"


It may be the latest sign of the growing divide between north and south, so to speak. Or, to find a more optimistic silver lining, a hopeful sign of things to come here at home.

Earlier this morning, the government of Argentina, an increasingly welcoming South American country when it comes to lesbians and gays, officially ended its prohibition on open service in the armed forces. Under the leadership of President Cristina Kirchner, the country rolled out a welcome mat for gay troops with an official policy of open service. "[W]ith this new system, gay men or lesbian women who wish to train in the forces should encounter no impediment, nor any military retaliation areas," AG Magazine reported today.

The move puts Argentina in good company. Few nations continue to exclude qualified lesbian and gay troops from their armed forces, and most of the world's most effective militaries - including Great Britain, Canada and others - long ago ended thier military bans. Membership in the European Union, in fact, requires lifting any remaining laws or policies that bar gay citizens from service. And from the most progressive (Sweden) to the most religious (Israel) nations on the globe, there is a recognition that qualification - and not discrimination - should determine who is eligible to serve.

Yet, even while Argentina takes a giant step forward on the issue, the United States, at the very same moment, continues to offer a study in contrasts.

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