Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Common Sense from Al Franken regarding Don't Ask Don't Tell

This week, Republicans prevented us from debating the Defense Authorization bill in part because it would have repealed the foolish and unjust "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that prevents gay and lesbian members of our military from serving openly.

As I said on the floor, there are plenty of logical reasons to make this discriminatory policy part of our past.

  • "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" kicks out thousands of willing and capable Americans in whom we've invested time and training--at a time when our military is desperately in need of recruits. And military commanders certainly don't need to spend their time investigating troops' sexual orientation at a time when we're engaged in two wars.
  • Militaries around the world have allowed gay and lesbian citizens to serve openly without issue, and a recent article in Joint Force Quarterly concluded that "there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that unit cohesion will be negatively affected if homosexuals serve openly."
  • And, of course, the country is ready for it--a recent poll showed that 75 percent of Americans favor ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

But the most powerful reason to repeal the policy has nothing to do with reasoned argument and everything to do with basic fairness.

I've met gay and lesbian servicemembers while visiting troops overseas on USO tours and as a Senator. They have the same pride, courage, and dedication to their jobs as every other American solider, sailor, airman, or Marine. And they shouldn't have to lie about who they are in order to serve.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, said, "For me, personally, it comes down to integrity: theirs as individuals and ours as an institution." He's right.

That's why I believe that, this week's setback notwithstanding, this policy will be repealed sooner rather than later. And I believe that those who obstructed progress this week may well wish that they had been on the right side of history.