‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ officially repealed

David Bartholomew

After almost two decades, the U.S. policy of banning homosexuals from openly serving in the military, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” has been officially repealed.

The policy, which was enacted in 1993, essentially allowed gay service members to serve as long as they did not openly acknowledge their sexual orientation, while commanders were not allowed to inquire about it.

However, that policy, which many found to be discriminatory, has been a polarizing topic for gay rights groups across the country and eventually was repealed in a congressional vote last year, becoming official Tuesday. In light of this new era of openness in the military, many have pondered what this means for the military on the ground.

“If people are professional about it, it shouldn’t be an issue,” said Amber Bruer, sophomore in history and a cadet in the Army ROTC. “But if you have people that are immature, you are definitely going to have a problem.”

One of the main issues that opponents of the repeal have brought up is that it could disrupt group cohesion in the military, and efficiency and discipline could be undermined.

President Barack Obama made it a point of concern to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” and even allowed for the military to conduct studies and inquiries to assess the potential problems that could arise from the repeal.

“I think it could hinder cohesion between soldiers, but I also think it needs to be given time as soldiers are adjusting to the repeal,” Bruer said.

However, the majority of studies conducted by the military as well as testimonies made by military leaders overwhelmingly showed that repealing the ban would not harm the military in any significant way.

“I think it’s a good thing, but it still opens them up to discrimination,” said Brady Hutchinson, sophomore in integrated studio arts. “But it is definitely a step in the right direction.”

In addition to the repeal, the military also has released a revised version of standards and regulations that correspond to the new policy. In the days of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” any service member who came out as a homosexual was immediately discharged. Under these new regulations, all new service members and those who were previously discharged are allowed to enlist and re-enlist in the military.

The military began accepting applications for openly gay recruits as recently as a few weeks ago and began to officially enlist them Tuesday. It is now only a short time before the first openly gay recruits in American history will head to boot camp with their heterosexual comrades.

“Socially, it could lead to some awkward situations, but that’s not different from normal society,” Hutchinson said. “It think it was good and I think it was inevitable that this happened.”