Earlier this month, Air Force Col. Om Prakash wrote an article in the Joint Force Quarterly, a journal published for the he chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by the National Defense University Press, which criticized the 15-year old “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that bars openly gay Americans from serving in the US military. The article won the Secretary of Defense National Security Essay competition for 2009.
Below is an excerpt from Col. Prakash’s essay:
The 1993 “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” law was a political compromise reached after much emotional debate based on religion, morality, ethics, psychological rationale, and military necessity. What resulted was a law that has been costly both in personnel and treasure. In an attempt to allow homosexual Servicemembers to serve quietly, a law was created that forces a compromise in integrity, conflicts with the American creed of “equality for all,” places commanders in difficult moral dilemmas, and is ultimately more damaging to the unit cohesion its stated purpose is to preserve. Furthermore, after a careful examination, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that unit cohesion will be negatively affected if homosexuals serve openly. In fact, the necessarily speculative psychological predictions are that it will not impact combat effectiveness. Additionally, there is sufficient empirical evidence from foreign militaries to anticipate that incorporating homosexuals will introduce leadership challenges, but the challenges will not be insurmountable or affect unit cohesion and combat effectiveness. Though, as Congress clearly stated in 1993, serving in the military is not a constitutional right, lifting the ban on open service by homosexuals would more clearly represent the social mores of America in 2009 and more clearly represent the free and open society that serves as a model for the world. Ultimately, Servicemembers serving under values they believe in are the most effective force multipliers.
Repealing the ban now will be more difficult than when it was created in 1993. It is no longer a Pentagon policy, but rather one codified in law. It will require new legislation, which would necessitate a filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate. Most likely, leadership on the issue will come from the executive branch, and President Obama’s transition team has indicated it will likely tackle the issue next year. It is also possible the law could be struck down by judicial action finding the law unconstitutional.
Based on this research, it is not time for the administration to reexamine the issue; rather, it is time for the administration to examine how to implement the repeal of the ban.
Since the policy was adopted in 1993, over 13,000 service members have been discharged from the US military. Today, there are an estimated 65,000 active gay and lesbian service members.