Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Must Go
The Rev. Dr. Matt Tittle is minister of
Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church in Houston.
Dear President Obama,
This weekend, you promised an end to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that forbids gay members of the armed forces from revealing their sexual orientation. Please follow through on this promise immediately. I am a retired Navy Commander. I was still on active duty when the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was being implemented. Many of us were vocal then that the policy would be ineffective, would force service members to violate their integrity, and would ultimately be counter-productive to good order and discipline, quite the contrary of the policy’s intent. This is an issue of human rights, worth and dignity, integrity, and equality.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, blacks were not allowed to serve alongside whites, until prejudice gave way to the reality that everyone can serve honorably. Once upon a time, not so long ago, women were not allowed to serve alongside men, and then they were not allowed to serve in combat roles. I remember telling my shipmates in the early 1980s that women would be serving fully alongside us before our careers were over. My female peers and their successors have done just that, even though I heard male peers and superiors say “Not in my Navy! Not on my watch!” Prejudice gave way to the reality that everyone can serve equally. Mr. President, make your promise a reality so that we can say, “Once upon a time, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals were not allowed to serve alongside heterosexuals, until fear and misunderstanding gave way to honesty and integrity.” Please follow through on your promise by issuing an immediate Executive Order repealing the policy, and continuing to demand that Congress pass the corresponding legislation. Do the right thing and order each of the services to halt all pending discharges.
As you know, the irony is that glbt soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines have been there all along. They’ve been serving just as honorably as everyone else, but have to hide their identities, their partners, their families. They have to guard their every word out of fear of slipping up and risking their careers or worse. I have had dear friends for nearly three decades who have served under these conditions, before and since “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” I can only imagine the mental stress that this must cause. Please, do the right thing Mr. President.
Rev. Dr. Matt Tittle CDR, USNR (Ret.)