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Grad Notes: Don’t ask don’t tell

Mills College is a wonderful accepting bubble of diversity of age, race and sexual orientation; bubble, because once one exits the gates and the confines of the Bay Area, one is guaranteed to encounter the ignorance that consumes the rest of the world.

Take, for instance, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. No, it is not the rule for my long-distance relationship but a policy in the U.S. Armed Forces that denies openly gay and lesbian men and women from serving in the military.

The law actually reads, “The presence in the Armed Forces who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.”

Quick disclaimer: I am not a member of the military, nor do I plan to be unless they agree to pay back my student loans. And on the sexuality continuum, I lean towards men. So why do I give a hoot about this issue? Because I think it is ridiculous that women and men willing to die in combat with an American flag patch on their arm are at risk of being discharged if they even whisper or hint towards being gay.

Since the law was enacted in 1993, more than 13,000 service women and men have been honorably discharged from the military under the policy, according to The Boston Globe.

Yet luckily it is on its way to being repealed. But you better believe this is not going to happen without a fight.

Attorney General Robert Gates and Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a Senate hearing they support repealing the policy. They also agreed to a year-long investigation of what might happen if the law is repealed.

This is a step in the right direction toward eliminating the assumption that once the law is repealed every single gay and lesbian person in the military will come out and the entire armed forces will crumble like blue cheese.

Coronal Oliver North was obviously not a fan of blue cheese when he spoke out against overturning the law.

“…this isn’t about rights, this is about fairness. It’s all about national security,” Col. North said according to

Fairness? If we’re going to be fair maybe there should be a law against service men and women flaunting their heterosexuality. Or simply let everyone be open about their sexualities.

Another wrong-headed reaction: “Straight service members shouldn’t be forced to share sleeping quarters and showers with those who are openly gay,” said Scott Fair, a former Army helicopter flight engineer, according to

Yet there is no difference between sleeping next to or showering with those who are gay, regardless of if his or her fellow service members know it. In addition, in many units there are openly gay men and women serving without complaint from their colleagues.

To be gay does not make one automatically attracted to everyone or want to prey on those who are straight.

But what seems like a silly assumption to those of us at Mills is actually what drives such policy. Treating gay and lesbian people as less than human is not new. Just look at what other policies are in place that deny rights to gays. This assumption infects more people than H1N1.

We’ll see what happens with the year-long investigation. But instead of bothering those fighting two wars with a “gay” survey, while most troops on the ground ignore Don’t Ask Don’t Tell anyway, Congress could just realize homosexuality is not a threat to national security and abolish the policy once and for all.