Tuesday, June 09, 2009

DAY 23: DADT Update

The US Supreme Court denied a request yesterday to review whether or not 'Don't Ask/Don't Tell' is unconstitutional, agreeing with President Obama not to intervene in DADT cases. Since its inception, DADT has led to the discharge of nearly 13,000 gay and lesbian soldiers, many of them mission-critical. DADT has recently been a contentious topic of debate and we have been discussing it here for the past three weeks.

President Obama vowed a full repeal during his campaign, but since taking office has backtracked and said he will seek only a partial repeal that strengthens the military. There is growing anger and impatience with the president over what many view as his broken promises to the LGBT community.

Army Captain James Pietrangelo, who was discharged under DADT in 2004, filed the federal lawsuit against the Pentagon and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and asked the high court to rule on the constitutionality of DADT. He served six years on the Army, seven years in the National Guard, and fought in the Gulf War in Iraq in 1991. The person we have most mentioned here concerning DADT is Lt. Dan Choi.

Choi was interviewed by CNN's Anderson Cooper and said he felt "extremely disappointed." Choi said soldiers are taught to follow a leader not because of their rank or position, but "because of their courage, because they want to stand up to their responsibilities." Choi said President Obama and all our leaders need to show courage, especially since the country is at war.

"The number one priority is protecting our troops," Choi said. "Don't Ask/Don't Tell doesn't hurt the gay soldiers as much as it hurts the straight soldiers - every unit that is ripped apart because of a soldier being fired for being honest is punished. We need to wake up and realize that the destinies of gay and straight Americans are tied at the hip."

When Cooper pointed out the purpose of DADT was to protect unit cohesion, Choi said, "I think unit cohesion is based on trust and honesty. What [DADT] does is penalize soldiers for doing what they are trained to do - living honesly, having courage, standing up, and not hiding from your responsbilities."

Choi concluded that he was still gay and still a soldier, and all the arguments saying DADT promotes unit cohesion and morality are completely false. "When a soldier is honest, when they are able to have the confidence within their unit to talk about who they really are, the unit gets stronger. The same thing applies to an organization, a church, or a family. When we have a foundation of honesty, it makes the unit stronger."

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