Metro Weekly

The Right Side of History

''Don't Ask, Don't Tell'' is a threat to the Constitution and National Security

The ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) statute, which bans gays and lesbians from open service, is the only remaining federal personnel policy which places discrimination ahead of individual rights. Log Cabin Republicans continues a three-front campaign against this failed policy. Through our legal challenge, taking place right now in Riverside, Calif.; our lobbying in Congress; and our consultations with the Department of Defense, we have shown the DADT policy violates constitutional protections of due process and free speech, while continuing to be a burden on our national security.

Since last week, the Log Cabin Republicans vs. United States trial has included testimony by those directly impacted by DADT and by leading experts in the field of military readiness. This evidence clearly shows DADT is a violation of basic constitutional rights and threatens national security.

Recent headlines lead many in the gay community to believe the fight to repeal DADT is over, but the policy and discharges remain fully in force. The Senate has yet to take up a repeal-inclusive National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and many issues, including wasteful spending on pork-barrel projects, that could jeopardize the NDAA being passed and signed into law. It is with this reality that both the on-going LCR vs. United States trial and our lobbying are needed to ensure that there is an end to this discriminatory policy.

As a veteran of the Iraq campaign and a current Army reserve officer, I can attest that DADT is a hindrance to servicemember integrity, readiness and security, and is a waste of tax dollars. By forcing servicemembers to hide or lie about their sexual orientation, DADT undermines servicemembers’ responsibility and accountability under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Dishonesty is inherently counter to the long held Army values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage.

Even worse, dishonesty and lying is a security threat. Repeal of DADT not only removes the specter of discharge, it also removes risk of blackmail and compromising national security. Where being gay or lesbian was once grounds for punitive personnel actions or dismissal, the CIA, FBI, State Department, the Defense Department on the civilian side, as well as defense contractors, no longer take into account sexual orientation for reasons of dismissal.

Further, striking the DADT policy and implementing repeal will be a force multiplier for the retention and expansion of much-needed personnel and resources to fulfill the expeditionary campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as other training and peace-keeping missions around the globe. For 16 years, the United States has unnecessarily lost valuable human and financial capital to DADT. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Palm Center Blue Ribbon Commission, the government incurs costs of an estimated $22,000 dollars to $43,000 dollars per discharged servicemember. These estimates do not even account for the tremendous loss of expertise as well as the tax payer revenue expended training and equipping discharged members.

DADT is unconstitutional. DADT is a threat to military integrity and readiness. DADT is a threat to national security. DADT is a waste of tax payer dollars. DADT is discriminatory. DADT is un-American. To put it in military nomenclature, DADT is a ”No go.” The time is right for the courts, the Congress and the commander-in-chief to be on the right side of history and finally strike down the DADT statute.

R. Clarke Cooper is the new Executive Director of Log Cabin Republicans and the non-profit Liberty Education Forum. He was a diplomat in the recent Bush Administration and is an Iraq combat veteran. Cooper resides in Washington, where he is an Army Reserve Captain, a parishioner of St. Paul’s Episcopal on K Street, and a member of the Army & Navy Club.