U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy repealed

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After an 18-year battle, gays and lesbians in the United States military have finally found victory.  As of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday morning, the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was officially repealed.

The infamous “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, which took effect in 1993, was originally argued for by proponents who thought the policy’s stipulation of not allowing commanding officers to inquire about someone’s sexual orientation would act as a protection of gay men and women in the service.

However, as gays and lesbians have continued to fight for equal rights in other areas of society, the fact that the same gay men and women who were serving to protect this country were also forced to hide their sexual orientation or else face expulsion from the service, came to be seen as a form of segregation.

Now, with the repeal of the law, all gay servicemen and women can be as open about their lifestyle as they choose, all such punishments and expulsions will stop, and any pending investigations will be put to rest.

Though existing standards of personal conduct, such as those pertaining to public displays of affection, will remain in effect for all servicemen and women, regardless of sexual orientation, it’s a good day for gays and lesbians in the military who were, “required to lie several times a day,” under the old system, as one openly gay Lieutenant put it in the Los Angeles Times.

According to CBS News, Gay advocacy groups planned a series of celebrations across the country today.

The United States military, for its part, has spent several months preparing for the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy by updating regulations and training to reflect the change, and all branches of the service have been accepting applications from openly gay men and women for weeks now, according to the LA Times report.

While the repeal still faces plenty of opponents who argue that it will disrupt the service’s sense of order and undermine critical military relationships, top Pentagon leaders have certified that the new policy will not undermine the military’s ability to recruit or to fight in wars, and according to CBS News, several branches of the service were distributing business-as-usual statements Tuesday saying simply, “The law is repealed,” and reminding soldiers to treat each other fairly.

Because all members of the military, regardless of sexual orientation, are equally a part of protecting the rights and freedoms of United States citizens, lets hope that treatment comes as easy as it should.

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