I argue that “don’t ask don’t tell” has outlived its usefulness. Growing up in Maine, many of my friends were gay, and many were headed into the armed forces. Some kids were both. I am grateful for their service, and I have faith in all of them, irrespective of who they love.

In my mind, justifications for DADT fall into two categories: Either gay people are not qualified, or it is best for morale to keep the armed forces free of the sexual distraction that the presence of openly gay service people would create.

I assert that neither argument is sufficiently compelling.

It is ignorant and bigoted to believe that a gay service person is any less qualified than a straight service person. If you can handle boot camp, I don’t care who you love.

Sexual orientation is completely irrelevant to whether one has the strength and drive to dedicate their life to serving their country with specialized training in dangerous situations.

Our military is stretched to the breaking point. We cannot afford to turn away qualified personnel.

As to the arguments around morale and sex: Women serve openly in the military.

I assert that the presence of women is distracting to a much greater percentage of soldiers than the known presence of gay men.

If this is about homophobia and quality of life, I see no reason why members of the armed forces should be less accepting than members of the general populace.

The service members and veterans who I know personally are not bigoted meatheads. Homophobia is not a desirable quality. It does nothing to improve performance or spread democracy.

Undeniably, openly gay and lesbian service people will have a difficult road ahead. But waiting does nothing to improve the situation.

Amy Cox
Portland

 

After watching Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, aka “Lady Gaga,” rant against every decent service member of this country, I can’t help but wish that the only military policy to be changed would be the one that prohibits the Selective Service System from drafting her into the Army.

I asked Sen. Susan Collins about this very subject, and have in my possession a letter from the good senator dated June 23.

She informed me that “the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of male-only registration in the 1982 case of Rostker v. Goldberg.” Central to the Court’s decision was the assumption that the primary purpose of a draft would be to produce “combat troops,” and because “women are excluded from combat by statute or military policy, men and women are simply not similarly situated for purposes of a draft or registration for a draft.”

She continued, “Since the Court’s decision, however, statutes barring women from service in combat naval vessels or aircraft have been repealed, and women are currently barred by administrative regulation only from certain ground combat and special operations forces units and occupational specialties.”

I think the policy change I inquired about is the only realistic change the military should be considering pertaining to the fairness of service based on one’s sexuality.

It’s easy for Stefani to drop in here, stir things up by spouting-off on her narrow-minded prejudicial subject matter, and then taking off while the rest of us stay here to live and call Portland our home.

When I think of her, I can only hope the Selective Service System implements true gender equality for every young person of this country; and I also think it’s too bad the Selective Service System can’t put her at the top of its draft list.

the way, after hearing her speak in Deering Oaks, the only thing I can say is that she ain’t no lady.

Joe Bernatche
Portland

 

Monday’s loud political rally was correct in its call to end “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but the outdated policy deserves a eulogy, not a public execution.

DADT was approved by Congress in 1993, when the Democrats controlled both houses, and was signed into law by Bill Clinton. Even Rep. Barney Frank voted in favor of H.R. 2401 a full six years after he came out as gay. Why would the Democrats introduce such a policy?

It was a compromise to undermine the military’s ban on gay soldiers. Under DADT, gays could still serve — just not openly.

DADT protected gays from hate crimes by keeping them invisible. On Oct. 27, 1992, radioman Allen R. Schindler Jr. was brutality stomped to death by a fellow Navy seaman for being gay. Then as now, a high-profile tragedy often leads to rushed legislation.

Important compromises in our history never look good to us because we forget what the alternative was. The three-fifths compromise wasn’t an official racist policy; it was a way to limit the congressional power of slaveholding states.

Likewise, the “separate but equal doctrine” that justified segregation was a compromise.

Without it, you would have seen blacks banned from public restrooms with no alternative facilities. Instead, we saw blacks with different bathrooms. Awful, yes, but it was still progress.

Without DADT, gays would still have been discharged from the military, only their superior officers would have the added ability to seek them out for dismissal.

However, 2010 is not 1993. Today’s soliders are not as hostile to gay comrades as the previous generation was. DADT needs to go away.

It served its duty and now it’s time to retire the policy. Don’t ask, don’t tell deserves an honorable discharge.

Michael Hartwell
Gorham

 

I have always been under the impression that when a law is repealed, things go back to the way they were before. This is why I find it interesting that gay rights advocates want to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Before DADT, gays were not allowed to serve in the military at all. So repealing this law would not by itself advance their agenda.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” was implemented by the Clinton administration as a compromise to the left wing. What the gay rights activists want is to expand this policy so that gays can serve openly.

We can only have proper debate of issues if we use language properly. Let’s make sure we know the difference between repealing a policy and expanding it.

If you want to make changes, you should make sure you know the history of the policies in question.

Gay rights advocates don’t understand the history of the policies they are protesting.

David Newton
Old Orchard Beach