On Tuesday the U.S. Senate voted 56-43 against lifting the ban that prohibits homosexuals from serving openly in the military. This repeal, along with other measures, was attached to a $726 billion military spending bill.
The vote followed a ruling by U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips earlier this month that “don’t ask, don’t tell” violated due process and First Amendment rights. “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” made a law in 1993, limits the ability of the military to ask sexual orientation (don’t ask) and allows gay soldiers to serve provided they keep quiet (don’t tell) and refrain from homosexual acts.
Although I do not approve of homosexuality, I do believe that there are certain rights that belong to every American, no matter what their background is.
If gays and lesbians are expected to abide by this country’s laws, then they should not be prohibited from openly serving in the military. Men and women in the armed forces are praised by Americans and upheld as heroes for the sacrifices they make to preserve our freedom. However, many people act as if homosexuals do not deserve the same amount of appreciation simply because of their sexual orientation. Sacrifices should be viewed equally and we should be thankful for everyone who is willing to lay his or her life down for this country. A person’s time spent in the military should be a matter that is viewed independent of their sexuality. Americans can defend a person’s service for their country without endorsing their lifestyle.
Sexual orientation does not affect a person’s ability to fight. The requirement for military service should be loyalty to the United States and physical ability, not sexual preference. People may argue that the presence of gays and lesbians would limit the effectiveness of the armed forces and the cohesion of units.
Politicians should consult military leaders on such a matter, not citizens without any fighting experience. If studies indicate that current servicemen would be willing to fight alongside gays and lesbians and safety would not be compromised, then we could infer that there would be no impact on the overall ability of the military to continue doing its job.
According to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Congress is prohibited from making any law “abridging the freedom of speech.” Telling homosexual military service members what they can or cannot say about their sexual orientation is contradicting that right. The Constitution applies to all Americans, not just those with a certain point of view. If they are citizens then the law applies to them. Just as they are not allowed to break the law, they are also protected by the law.
I do not approve of the homosexual lifestyle, but I do believe that laws, and therefore rights, apply to everyone. Americans do not have to endorse homosexuality, but they should support the sacrifices that our troops are making.
Chancey Herbolsheimer is a freshman journalism and political science double major from Amarillo.