By Katlyn Moncada
The recent controversy over the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy has ignited controversy within the federal court and continues to be heavily debated.
Originating in 1993 under the Clinton administration, “don’t ask, don’t tell” prohibits open homosexuals from participating in the military. The government is currently disputing this policy.
Members of the military were not able to comment.
Virginia Phillips, California district judge, recently ruled the policy to be withdrawn. Phillips deemed the policy unconstitutional. However, the Associated Press reported the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals froze the judge’s order after the Department of Justice requested a stay.
Dr. Gregory Ryan, visiting assistant professor of political science and former naval officer, said he believes the civil court’s involvement in the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” should not be relevant to military law. He said constitutional perceptions do not apply to the military.
“The fact that this issue has been acted on and debated in civil court doesn’t make any sense to me,” Ryan said.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” is presented largely as a rights issue because the policy involves homosexuality,” Ryan said. He also said he does not believe arguing homosexuality is immoral is convincing enough.
“There are plenty of immoral things that go on in large bureaucracies,” he said.
If the policy is retracted, Ryan said military recruitment will likely change.
“Any social change in the military will be a huge education effort,” Ryan said.
He said there would probably have to be education on sensitivity and people who are opposed may be driven away.
Log Cabin Republicans are a group of advocates for homosexual civil rights. Because of the generally perceived association between the Republican Party and military, Log Cabin Republicans have been leading the way with efforts to eradicate “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Since the Republican Party is generally more right-leaning, Ryan said the pro-gay Log Cabin Republicans would lead the effort to get rid of the policy.
With “don’t ask, don’t tell” in place for so long, Dr. Joanne Stephenson, professor of psychology, said there could be a difficult adjustment for open homosexuals joining the military. If the policy is repealed, Stephenson said she believes three possible reactions could be made by heterosexuals in the military.
“There will be people who will react to it in a rational, accepting kind of way, people who will be offended and people who will be extreme in their reactions,” Stephenson said. She also said there could be a violent reaction by those in the military who are homophobic.
Living in close quarters while in the military could also induce tension between homosexuals and heterosexuals, Stephenson said.
“You feel more tense, which makes you feel like you’re being scrutinized more,” Stephenson said.
With midterm elections at a close, there is a possibility for the civil courts to get the policy resolved by December. Candidates for and against “don’t ask, don’t tell” are finished campaigning at home and will be able to focus on getting votes for the policy in court.