For the first time in this nation’s history, the U.S. military has begun accepting applications from openly gay recruits, or have they? On Oct. 19, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips of California, who had just recently overturned the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, also formally rejected the government’s request to halt her order enforcing her decision.
The Department of Defense, however, is warning potential applicants of the risk they face in light of the possibility of the decision being reversed.
Despite the future’s uncertainty, many military service members previously discharged due to being gay have immediately begun the process to re-enlist. One such member, Dan Choi, a 29-year-old Iraq War veteran turned LGBTQ rights activist, was immediately dismissed from the military following his coming out and public criticism of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on The Rachel Maddow Show in March 2009.
Furthermore, the lawsuit that prompted the injunction against “don’t ask, don’t tell” was brought by the Log Cabin Republicans, a pro-gay Republican group, on behalf of openly gay military personnel who had been discharged.
A month later, Judge Phillips granted a permanent injunction, prohibiting the federal government from further enforcement or application of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Though government lawyers immediately requested a stay of the injunction order, asserting that it would be disruptive to the troops, as they serve in war and need adequate time to transition, Phillips stated, “Safeguarding constitutional rights outweighed the government’s unproven concerns of the order’s impact on military readiness.”
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is due to release a report Dec. 1 about the possible impact of allowing openly gay service members. Some officials in the Pentagon have said that allowing openly gay military personnel would “necessitate dramatic policy changes on everything from housing and insurance to protocol at social events.”
Democrats tried in September to overturn “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but they failed to gain enough votes to do so.
President Barack Obama has vowed to end the policy, but most advisers agree that the president cannot end the ban without congressional or legal action. For some, though, the issue is much more straightforward.
Rollins Spectrum member Jason Montgomery ’13 believes that “if someone is willing to give up their life for the country they believe and live in, then why can’t they have the choice to defend [it.]”
Only time can tell who will defend America.