jump to navigation

Please Ask, Do Tell: The Senate And Gays in the Military September 23, 2010

Posted by legalethicsemporium in Gays in the Military, Immigration, Law, Ethics & Society, U.S. Constitution.
Tags: , , , , ,

Another case of democracy in action. (Or is that inaction?)  The Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy of allowing gays in the military only if no one knows that they are gay has been the subject of controversy since it was instituted 17 years ago.  It is estimated that at least 65,000 “uncover” gay individuals continue to serve our country.  However, gay soldiers continue to be expelled from the military when their sexual preference is discovered at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars to train their replacements.   In fact, it has been reported that approximately 1,000 individuals per year are dismissed from the military based upon homosexuality and at least 13,000 have been terminated from military service since the policy went into effect.

The resolution of this issue by a policy change which would allow gays to openly serve in the military is supported by President Obama who called for the change in his State of the Union address.  Mr. Gates, the Secretary of Defense, is supporting the repeal of the policy and  the House of Representatives passed an amendment in May which calls for the repeal of the policy.  On September 9th, a Federal Court in California deemed the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy to be unconstitutional.

Okay, so seems like we have all three branches of government in agreement…Well, not quite all three branches….The Congress is not united on the issue.  The House of Representatives passed an amendment, but the Senate has failed to do so.  Actually, the Senate failed to debate and pass the entire Pentagon bill for the first time in 48 years.   It seems that the problem was more of a political battle over what other amendments were going to be attached to the bill, just before the November elections, rather than  the actual issue of gays in the military.

In other words, the failure of the bill to pass seems to be largely a result of the legislative process. For example, The Dream Act, that would allow illegal immigrant children a pathway to citizenship, was going to be attached to the bill and therefore voting for the repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy would also be a vote for The Dream Act. Different issue and perhaps one upon which some Senators did not want to cast a vote.   And apparently there were  proposed amendments that were going to be excluded from the bill to the discontent of some Senators.   Additionally, there was a provision providing for over 400 million dollars for construction of  an extra engine for an F-35 strike fighter.  That provision might have been passed by the Senate, but if it was included, President Obama was poised to veto bill as the White House believes that it is an unnecessary expenditure.

It gets even more complicated if you go through all the moving parts of this bill and analyze the various November election concerns, but the point is that the politics of the legislative process is what often stymies progress.  Consensus becomes difficult at best and impossible at times because of a process that bundles unrelated issues into one package.  So, for now, the repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy has been stalled in the Senate along with the Dream Act to the frustration of the both the gay rights and immigration reform advocates.   Perhaps we should all “please ask and do tell” the Senate to reconsider its “packaging process” to more effectively play its  role in  resolving issues of concern to all of us–We the People–their constituents.



1. Ruth - September 24, 2010

Let me tell you how I feel about this. First of all, anyone who is willing to fight for our country and protect us gets high marks from me. You asked, so I’m telling! Further there is no relationship between issues with the military, no matter how specious, and the welfare of children. So, no, I don’t get it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: