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Editorial – Fighting terrorists, discrimination

The first step (Defenseimagery.mil)

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It takes a special kind of person to serve their country the way the men and women of the US Armed Forces do. They choose to serve in a way that places immeasurable strain on their families and places their lives in danger.

With the United States in the midst of two wars, military issues have become front burner news stories. Most recently, chief among these concerns has been the fight to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the controversial rule surrounding gays and lesbians serving openly.

Enacted by former President Clinton, the rule was meant to allow gay and lesbian soldiers to serve in the military without being harassed.

Unfortunately, it has had the opposite effect. According to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund more than 13,500 servicepersons have been discharged since 1994.

Nearly 14,000 soldiers fired because of their sexual orientation.

If those numbers were associated with any other organization, people would be appalled, because that is a startling number of personnel who are being discriminated against.

In March the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which would repeal “don’t ask don’t tell,” was introduced into the House of Representatives by Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA.)

The new law would change the current policy to one of nondiscrimination for sexual orientation.

Following its introduction several high ranking military officials including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Colin Powell have supported eliminating “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

It is common knowledge that the military is full of old time traditional rules that no one wants to go against, but in this instance they are wrong.

What difference does it make who someone loves, if they have the desire to serve their country?

There is also the idea that with recruiting numbers down and while in the middle of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US is OK losing soldiers for such a ridiculous reason.

The fund’s Web site also says that nearly 800 troops classified as mission critical, 59 Arabic and nine Farsi linguists have been discharged in the last five years.

Well that makes perfect sense because the last thing the military needs during a war in the Middle East is Arabic speaking soldiers.

The real question is what is the military so afraid of? Gays and lesbians currently serve in Congress, the FBI, CIA and Defense Department. Also many of the private defense contractors that the United States relies so heavily on allow open service.

And of course, as usual the US is behind the times when it comes to its international allies, since 24 countries around the world have open service.

There was a time not long ago when African-Americans were treated unfairly by the military and it wasn’t until the civil rights movement took over that they began to receive equal rights.

Well it is time once again for a movement because no matter what your feeling is on gays and lesbians, the idea that someone must deny who they are so that they may serve their country is unacceptable.

The United States claims to have the best and most powerful fighting force in the world, well this cannot be 100 percent true until every service man and woman is given the right to serve openly and equally.

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