Our view: Don't ask

Gays who serve with honor deserve honorable treatment

December 1, 2010 

Sen. Lindsay Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said this week that the GOP will stand firm against repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gay and lesbian service members. We hope Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski is one who proves him wrong. That policy, adopted as a compromise in 1993, allows gays to serve provided they keep their sexual orientation to themselves, or aren't outed by anyone else or by chance.

That policy has resulted in the discharge of about 11,000 service members, including some who have served with distinction and abided by the "don't-tell" rules but were outed then ousted. That's just wrong.

There's a simple solution. Cut "don't ask, don't tell" in half. Just go with "don't ask." Basically, it should be nobody's business. If it becomes known, so be it.

Make it clear that every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine is subject to a code of behavior that forbids actions that disrupt morale, break the law or interfere with the mission. Also make it clear that simply being gay isn't cause for discharge. Anyone who does his or her job with honor, respect and courage shouldn't have to worry about getting the boot. You don't have to march in a gay pride parade to recognize the justice in that.

Courts have struck down the don't ask, don't tell policy. According to a Pentagon study, most military members can live with gays serving without secrecy. Combat units are cooler to the repeal, and with that in mind Secretary of Defense Robert Gates sensibly says the military should have time to implement a new policy.

But the status quo isn't fair to gay service members. Sen. Murkowski should recognize that with her vote.

BOTTOM LINE: Simply being gay shouldn't be cause for discharge from the military.

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