New era of military community begins with DADT repeal

The policy, which aimed to keep sexual orientation concerns quiet, came to an end Tuesday.
Tuesday marked the end of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue" policy that maintained secrecy regarding sexual orientation. The original policy was instituted in 1993.

Tuesday marked the end of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue” policy that allowed for sexual orientation discrimination in the military.

The policy, instituted in 1993, introduced a game of avoidance where service members were not allowed to talk about, and the military was not to ask or pursue rumors about, sexual orientation.

Missouri Civil Liberties Association attorney Dan Viets said when the policy began during former president Bill Clinton’s term, DADT was a very progressive policy. Viets said despite its original intentions, the policy ending is a positive development.

“It'll strengthen the military in general, and it'll lead to a much healthier and stronger and more cohesive military,” Viets said about the repeal. “To exclude the gay community is foolish. The military will be stronger because of this decision.”

After a congressional bill to repeal DADT was introduced in December 2010, President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen sent out an approval for its repeal June 22.

Viets said the human aspect of the military makes addressing LGBTQ and other social issues vital to the health of the service.

“People in the military are still people,” Viets said. “They have a right to choose some privacy. That's the essence of the issue. Do people have the right to a private sex life?”

Network of Enlightened Women chairwoman Sophie Mashburn said though the end of the policy is good for expanding recruitment, she believes it does not realistically pertain to the military’s interests.

“In the current economic climate, I really don't think that this is something that's a major success,” Mashburn said. “The only difference now is that you can't get kicked out for being gay. While it shouldn't be like that anyway, why are we talking about that when there are other issues to be thinking about?”

MU College Democrats president Matt Tharp said it was time for DADT to end.

Tharp said those who initially wanted to hold off on addressing the repeal of DADT were using that idea as an excuse.

“Now the issue is not that we have a problem with gays, but rather, a problem with people against gays,” Tharp said.

Tharp related to a moment when former New York governor George Pataki said it was outrageous that the sexual orientation of first responders in the Sept. 11 attack was never questioned, but soldiers risking their lives in the military had to hide their sexual identity for so long.

“It's vastly better to state up front sexual orientation in the military,” Viets said. “This is not just good for gay people. It's good for everybody.”

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