As I clean out my e-mail box this afternoon, I realize (yet again) that I need blog more regularly on repealing the ban on gay people serving openly in the military (i.e., Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell or DADT).Â This issue, the one clear case of federal discrimination against gays, should be the top priority of gay activists.Â And not just because it’s good for gay people.
It’s good for the military as well.Â By making it more difficult for gay people to serve, DADT deprives the military of tens of thousands of citizens who would otherwise eagerly serve our country in the armed forces.
And study after study (after study after study) has shown that allowing gay people to serve openly would not compromise unit cohesion or morale, a criticism frequently leveled by those who favor the ban.Â Whenever I speak with members of the armed forces (nearly all of them straight), they all tell me they’re aware that some of their colleagues are gays; they don’t see their sexuality as a hindrance to their service.
Earlier this month, Dr. Nathaniel Frank, senior research fellow at the Palm Center, a research institute of the University of California, Santa Barbara which, for the past decade, has focused “on sexual minorities in the military,” began a speaking tour to promote his new book, Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America.Â In the course of his research, Frank found that military and political architects of the policy acknowledged it was â€œbased on nothingâ€ but â€œour own prejudices and our own fears.â€
So, as activists lobby Congress to overturn the ban, let us hope they focus on what Frank learned in writing his book–that it undermines the military and weakens America.