Future of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in question

Tessa Duvall

Last week, a federal judge in California ordered an injunction halting the enforcement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a policy passed in 1993 that bans homosexuals and bisexuals from openly serving in the military.

It also prevents anyone from investigating a servicemember’s sexuality.

Days later, the U.S. Department of Justice asked U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips of Riverside, Calif., to set aside her decision, saying it would harm the country’s military and national security, according to national media reports.

In the meantime, the Pentagon says it will obey the courts, but gay rights groups are urging members to continue to keep their sexuality a secret in case the injunction is overturned.

Court arguments surrounding “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” were set to begin at 2:30 p.m. PT on Monday.

Representatives from WKU’s Student Veterans Alliance and Army ROTC program declined to comment on the ongoing situation around the policy.

Kat Michael, president and cofounder of the Student Identity Outreach on campus, said gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military and without being victims of hate crimes.

“This is the closest by far that the gay rights movement has gotten to overturning ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” she said.

But the Department of Justice’s request could turn everything around.

“People think because the injunction was put into place that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is over,” Michael said. “But that’s not the case.”

If a servicemember is discovered to be homosexual, they could be discharged from the military.

More than 14,000 servicemembers have been fired under the policy since 1994, according to information on the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network website.

Michael said she comes from a family with a military history, and even has a gay friend in the military.

“My grandfather served in Vietnam, and he learned very quickly that everyone bleeds the same color,” she said.

The SIO has talked a great deal about the policy, and many members have written letters to their senators urging them to overturn it, she said.

Michael said she would like to see President Barack Obama follow through with his campaign promise to overturn “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but so far, he that hasn’t happened.

A lot of the people in the gay rights community, including Michael, voted for Obama, she said.