Military’s ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy may end soon

Mariana Silva

PRIDE!Kent looks

forward to repeal the ban on LGBT service

After 16 years of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the LGBT community sees a possible end to the policy that bans gays and lesbians from being open about their sexuality in the military.

“We are excited to see those changes,” said Max Harrington, president of PRIDE!Kent. “We have seen in past presidential elections it was all about change, and that was one thing that was promised and we’re looking forward to. And it is finally here.”

Harrington said he was with his friends when he watched President Obama on Jan. 27 deliver the State of the Union in which he said to have plans to repeal “don’t ask, don’t’ tell.”

“That was the moment that we were the most excited about. We weren’t sure exactly what he was going to say about it (the policy) but when he did say it, it was kind of a relief feeling,” Harrington said.

Harrington said he thinks the changes should be done step by step and recalled how changes were integrated at racial segregation times. He said he believes changes should be made at a slower pace so people can adjust better to them.

“Things are happening so fast that you might not be able to see and evaluate everything,” Harrington said.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said yesterday in a congressional hearing about the issue that he is directing the department to review current regulations and to recommend changes to the policy within 45 days.

But defense officials said it could take years until gays and lesbians can be completely incorporated into the military.

“It’s about time,” said Marilyn Norconk, anthropology professor at Kent State affiliated with the LGBT minor. “The faster they can do it the better.” The professor said she believes the government doesn’t have to undertake another study about the topic.

Harrington said the most important part of a decision that abolished “don’t ask, don’t tell” would be that gays and lesbians in the military would not receive a dishonorable discharge because of sexual option.

He said the decision would give gays and lesbians in the service the freedom to be open about their sexuality and that it could also play a role in the education of the population about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community.

Harrington said repealing the policy would be an avenue to future changes on how the legislation sees the LGBT community.

“I believe that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ was a flawed policy from the beginning when President Clinton chose to break his campaign promise and compromise his true beliefs,” Daniel Nadon, co-coordinator of the LGBT minor at Kent, wrote in a e-mail.

Nadon said the U.S is falling behind by sticking with “don’t ask, don’t tell” when the majority of its allies have dropped actions that blocked gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military.

“I have faith that the men and women in our military will continue to serve with the same high standard of professionalism when the policy is eventually dropped,” Nadon wrote.

Contact diversity reporter Mariana Silva

at [email protected].