Is Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Bad Constitutional Policy?
“I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is “needed” before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ “interests,” I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can. – Barry Goldwater”
It is often said that Republicans want the government to stay out of your pocketbook, but legislate and restrict what you can do in your personal life, and Democrats want the government to stay out of your personal life, but they very much so want involved with your personal budget and finances. This of course is not always the case and there are exceptions to every rule. Right now there is a bill going through the Senate regarding gay rights. Two Maine Republicans have the choice of going along with the traditional Republican Rule or standing alone as the exception.
The year was 1993 and President Bill Clinton became an exception to the rule when he passed a law known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” which prohibited homosexuals from openly serving in the military. The law simply said that, if you are a gay man or woman in the military, you can not come out of the closet, and if you are serving and believe one of your brothers in arms is gay, you can’t bring them into question. Clinton’s logic behind the passage of this bill was that heterosexuals would be uncomfortable bunking with and or changing in front of another soldier who may have a wondering eye. They said allowing gays to openly serve would be like allowing straight men to bunk with and change with woman as the chances of soldiers breaking out in a game of peek-a-boo was just as likely. This legislation outraged the gay community as now they were discriminated against in the military, saying that heterosexuals could openly serve while they could not.
There is at this time a growing number of people who are pushing for a repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell. In fact there is a bill in the Senate and the Democrats pushing it need 60 votes today to pass it along to the president that will officially repeal Clinton’s policy. Two Senators who can make or break the bill are Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe who reside in the New England state of ME. So yesterday, Monday, September 20, 2010, Lady Gaga, a well known recording artist who’s sexuality is questionable to many, traveled to Portland, Maine to deliver a speech in what she referred to as ‘Snowe’s and Collins’ backyard’. Gaga was joined with thousands of protesters and several military personnel who were discharged for coming out of the closet while in service. Their hope is to persuade the two Senators to cast their vote in favor of their legislation, that Gaga refers to as, “If you don’t like it, go home!” Gay rights advocates believe their efforts are promising as Collins recently voted in a committee to repeal the don’t ask don’t tell policy, but she has said she is not sure how she will vote today.
So where should the conservatives stand on this policy? I for one, as an individual not currently affiliated with either party am of the crazy belief that, it would be fancy if the government just stayed out of both my wallet and my bedroom. Is that too much to ask? Now I do understand that, don’t ask, don’t tell is different from banning homosexual activity. I also understand that allowing gays to openly serve does open a can of worms as I believe its safe to say there’s more men in the military who would be uncomfortable changing in front of a gay person than there are actual gays in the military. Which is why I also don’t agree completely with Gaga’s policy of “If you don’t like it, go home!” I don’t think an all gay military would be a good defense, as our numbers would be low. Something can be done though to satisfy the gays and the straights. But banning open gay service is not the answer. This may not be the traditional Republican stance but it is no doubt the Conservative one. Don’t believe me? Lets rewind time back a bit and listen to what Mr. Conservative himself, Barry Goldwater had to say on the topic,
“You don’t have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight.”
Goldwater knew this because as a Constitutionalist he knew that there is no Constitutional mandate that requires soldiers to be straight. The only task military personnel have is to uphold the constitution and be physically qualified to perform the task at hand, which yes, includes shooting straight. My hope is that Collins and Snowe go against the grain today and vote no, to government sponsored discrimination and yes to individual liberties.