“Say ‘No’ to ‘Don’t’: A Push to Repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Ryan Boes (2011) — Inquiry 3

Writer’s Reflection

The purpose for this sequence was to choose a national, global, or local issue and persuade an audience to view the issue the same as you do. I choose to write about an issue that has been brought up many times in last few months. My topic, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, required countless hours of research. The hardest part was not finding supports for my claim, but finding credible sources and mediums to come up with my supports. I feel that the extra time I spent sifting through sources really adds to the ethos of my paper. This assignment truly led me to step outside of my comfort zone considering how controversial this issue is and the relevance in today’s society.

The research I conducted really enlightened me and affirmed my belief that everyone should be treated equal no matter who they are or who they love. The research also helped me to develop my audience. I realized that an issue such as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell affects our nation as a whole. For this reason I decided to make my audience all of America and in doing this I was able to center my paper on my audience. I found that my American audience was split between those opposed to my view of repealing DADT and those who agree with my position of repealing DADT. I worked hard to convince the opposition of my view to take my side.

To persuade my audience, I relied on the use of logos, using research, and pathos. I think this really added something to my paper. I really hope that readers of this paper can at least take out of this, that segregation of any kind should not be tolerated in the country we live in.


For almost 17 years now, one question has riddled the minds of countless men and women across the country, almost being a quite controversy up until the past few months. Should the United States’ current military policy, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” be repealed based on the fact this law no longer holds merit in today’s society? During the past 17 years of the implementation and enactment of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, more than 13,000 patriotic and highly qualified men and women have been discharged from the armed forces (Conley). Given all of the information we know today on the issue and based upon moral correctness, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell should be repealed in its entirety.

When examining the debate surrounding Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, it is important for one to look at the history of the policy and what exactly the policy means. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was introduced in 1993 under, then president Bill Clinton. During the time before Clinton was elected to office he had held a promise to end all segregation in the military, including homosexuals, allowing everyone to serve. Through his work and under stress from congress, President Clinton was able to come up with a compromise policy with the Department of Defense Director. Prior to his efforts it was illegal to be homosexual and serve in the military; anyone who was even suspected of being homosexual or bisexual was immediately discharged.

The major difference between the policy and what existed before 1993 and the current policy is that before 1993, if a person was even thought to be homosexual, they could be discharged. The first part of the policy, later named “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, prohibits anyone who, “demonstrates a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts from serving in the armed forces of the United States” (Pub.L. 103-160 (10 U.S.C. § 654)). Furthermore the policy prohibits any homosexual or bisexual person from disclosing his or her sexual orientation or speaking about any homosexual relationships, including marriages or other familial attributes, while serving in the United States armed forces. The second part of the policy, rather the “Don’t Ask” part, tells that superiors of service members should not initiate investigation on that service member’s orientation. “Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t harass, don’t pursue,” (Korb 2) has been the common motto used in the military.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in its entirety can really be seen as a sense of segregation and should be repealed on a basis that it is the morally right thing to do. In a written statement from Major General Vance Coleman to the subcommittee on Military personal, Coleman, an African American man had this to say regarding a time from his past when he was assigned to an all-black unit, “The message was clear: It did not matter that I was a qualified Field Artillery Officer who was qualified to serve in the all-white combat arms unit. It only mattered that I was black” (Davis 56). In this instance Coleman depicts a time, not too long ago, when African Americans were segregated in the military. In his written statement to congress, Colman relates his story of segregation in the military to the modern day discrimination of members of the LGBT community. Today is the same case of segregation with a new minority, that minority being homosexuals. In a country that goes by, “Land of the free,” discrimination cannot be a morally accepted behavior when consider all we have learned from segregating minorities in the past. The ban on openly gay service has never been based on sound research, because there has never been research that has shown openly gay service hurts the military. Considering the facts we now know about this issue, DADT should be repealed on the basis of moral correctness.

In addition, discharging qualified men and women, especially those with highly unique skill sets, harms our overall military readiness. “As an Army Commander, I know how disruptive it would be to remove a trained, skilled service member from a unit. It is bewildering, and counter-intuitive, to me that we maintain a federal law that says, no matter how well a person does his or her job…no matter how integral to their unit they are…they must be removed, disrespected and dismissed because of who they happen to be, or who they happen to love,” Coleman continues to pronounce in his statement. The fact is that this policy has led to the discharge and removal of over 13,000 men and women in the armed forces. The hearing before the Military Personnel Subcommittee displays the data, “Five dozen Arabic language experts have been dismissed. Nearly 800 people with skills the DoD admits are ‘mission-critical’ have been sent home. And, an estimated 41,000 lesbian and gay Americans who want to serve have been reluctant to sign up” (Davis 58). That estimate of 41,000 is the equivalent of 15 to 20 brigades and as Major General Coleman says, “It’s unacceptable that we have said we do not want them. It’s time, for the sake of our military, to end this modern-day prejudice and embrace all of our troops as first-class patriots with an important contribution to make.”

Those who seek to keep Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in place argue that straight men and women will not feel comfortable in certain situations with homosexual men and women. In simpler terms as quoted from HillBuzz, a blogging page on wordpress.com says, “Gay dudes keep pushing DADT because they want to join the military just so they can shower with straight men” (Dujan). As crazy as this counter argument sounds, it surprisingly is a view continuously brought up by many people. This idea that homosexual men seek to join the military so they can shower with straight men is not only completely false, but also considerably ignorant. I like to pull up a recent Saturday Night Live Weekend Update clip, in which Amy Poehler discusses her views on this counter argument, “What do you think, gay solider are getting something out of the deal? Saying, ‘Hey I’m totally gamming the system, all I have to do is go to Afghanistan for a few months, get shot and potentially killed, but on the upside I might catch a glimpse of some dudes wiener in the shower!’” While mainstream entertainment from a show like Saturday Night Live is not always the most reliable source, I think Amy Poehler provides a very strong sort of message on the validity of the opposition’s argument. Especially when one looks at the long, exhausting process, of getting into the military, going to basic training and numerous other feats, it is very improbable that gays in the military would go to all the trouble just to watch “other dudes shower”. Gay men and women are not “getting something” out of going to war and fighting, they are doing it for their family and their country just as heterosexual men and women have been doing the same for years.

Others who seek to keep Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell argue that the United States Military is built on tradition and doesn’t want homosexuals in the military. While no one can know exactly what every member of the military thinks, there has actually been many important people, including military officers, who have came out to speak about this issue. General John Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had this to say regarding our current policy, “Conversations I’ve held with service members make clear that, while the military remains a traditional culture, that tradition no longer requires banning open service by gays. There will undoubtedly be some teething pains, but I have no doubt our leadership can handle it” (Korb 1). I think what Shalikashvili is saying is how yes; this policy may have been prevalent in our more conservative past, however in today’s society there is no credible evidence supporting the major arguments for retaining this law. A 2006 research poll of returning Afghanistan and Iraq veteran found that 73% of those surveyed were personally comfortable around homosexuals (Conley). General Shalikashvili is not the only high ranking official who has spoken out about this issue many other congressmen, senators, generals, lutenitents, and others have had something to say. One of my personal favorites comes from Senator Barry Goldwater stating, “You don’t have to be straight in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight” (Korb 3). Senator Goldwater’s words again poke fun at the legitimacy of this horrible policy.

The opposition to repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell may say that having homosexuals in the armed forces will disrupt camaraderie and harm overall moral. While this position seeks interest, it is completely false. Rather, the discharge of these soldiers is what has been known to disrupt camaraderie. “The discharge of a soldier compromises strength. It breaks down camaraderie. It causes problems,” states Kathy Belge, editor for about.com (2).  Belge is supporting the fact that it is not the brave men and women who serve that disrupt camaraderie with their sexuality, but in fact the discharge of these men and women that tends to damage the camaraderie and overall moral of the armed forces. As stated by Major General Vance Coleman, “The military has shown it excels at blending people together from different backgrounds and beliefs, putting the mission first” (Davis 56).

Given all of the information we know today on the issue and based upon moral correctness, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell should be repealed in its entirety. The time is now to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. During the past 17 years of the implementation and enactment of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, more than 13,000 patriotic and highly qualified men and women have been discharged from the armed forces (Conley). The majority of these men and women were decorated war veterans, who prior to being discharged had served for over five years. Our current President, President Obama has failed to carry out his promise of ending DADT. Contact your local congress man or women to voice your opinion on the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy today. It is overdue to end this form of modern day segregation and embrace all who serve our country no matter who they are or who they happen to love.

Works Cited

Belge, Kathy. Lesbians and Gays in the Military. About.com, 16 Sept. 2010. <http://lesbianlife.about.com/od/lesbianactivism/a/Gaysinmilitary_2.htm>.

Davis, Susan A. Military Personnel Subcommittee of the Committee on Armed Services House of Representatives. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Review. Washington: U.S. Congress, 2009, Print.

Gilligan, Ty. “Policy Promotes Intolerance.” The Miami Student. Vol. 138, 18. 26 Oct. 2010: 7. Print.

Korb, Lawrence J., Laura Conley. Ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. Center for American Progress, 24 Jun. 2009. Web. <http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/06/dont_ask_dont_tell.html>.


Poehler, Amy. “Weekend Update: Really With Seth and Amy.” Saturday Night Live. NBC. Hulu, 11 Oct. 2010. Web.<http://www.hulu.com/watch/180969/saturday-night-live-update-really-with-seth-and-amy>.