“Gays should serve openly,” Says Military Journal

An article in the current issue of Joint Force Quarterly urges repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law that requires gays and lesbians in the military to keep mum about their sexual orientation. The article is by Air Force Colonel Om Prakash, who currently works in the Pentagon.

Prakash concludes that “it is not time for the administration to re-examine the issue.” Instead, he writes, “it is time for the administration to examine how to implement the repeal of the ban.”

Good for Prakash. Let’s have an end to foot-dragging and the Bush-style “needs-more-study” excuse. The time to repeal the ban is now.

The article reports that the ban has resulted in the loss of approximately 12,500 personnel since 1993, when it took effect. The rationale behind the law was that the presence of gays and lesbians in the ranks would undermine group cohesion and might even cause a “mass exodus” of servicemembers. But Prakash claims group cohesion has suffered significantly from the loss of so many trained personnel.

The current law, he writes, “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.”   

Prakash researched the gay-inclusive policies of military services in Australia, Canada, and Britain for his article. He found no evidence of any impact on military performance and reports that no “mass exodus” occurred in these countries.

Though Prakash’s article carries no official weight, it may contribute to the pressure that President Obama is now under to fulfill his campaign pledge of ending the ban on gays in the military.

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, representing gay and lesbian soldiers who have been discharged, has hailed the article. Meanwhile, the conservative Center for Military Readiness continues to insist that lifting the ban will have negative effects on recruitment, morale, and unit cohesion.

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