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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ under siege”

    A proposed bill calling for the repeal of the military’s policy on homosexuals and bisexuals would also change policy of the UA’s Reserve Officer Training Corps.

    The proposed Military Readiness Enhancement Act, introduced by former Rep. Martin T. Meehan, D-Mass., is backed by more than 100 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. It calls for an amendment to Chapter 37 of Title 10, United States Code, or “”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.””

    The National Defense Reauthorization Act of 1994 prohibits any homosexual or bisexual person from disclosing his or her sexual orientation either verbally or physically. If they do so, they are removed from the armed forces under certain regulations.

    The Military Readiness Enhancement Act aims to instate “”a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.””

    The bill also says that training programs like ROTC will also be revised should the bill pass. If passed, the bill would become public law, said Bob Rosenberg, public affairs officer for the U.S. Army’s Western Region Cadet Command.

    “”Whatever legislation is put in place by elected officials is what ROTC will follow,”” he said.

    However, ROTC students are not in danger of being turned away or discharged based on the “”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”” policy, he added.

    “”Just about anyone can attend the classes for information and instruction because they’re either contracted out or are paying students,”” Rosenberg said.

    The policy applies to students once they become an officer or member of the Armed Forces, he said.

    “”It was originally set up to protect gay, lesbian and bi people,”” said John-Peter Wilhite, a member of Tucson’s Commission on LGBT Issues. “”The (Army) didn’t have to ask and they didn’t have to tell.””

    Despite that, he said, higher-ranking officials have found ways to get around the policy and have discharged individuals based on their own beliefs.

    The current policy shouldn’t prevent students from considering a future with the military,”” said Sheena Lucas, a chemistry freshman and ROTC member.

    “”If they really truly wanted to be in the military, I don’t think they’d mind the policy,”” she said. “”They’d just want to serve the country.””

    The Military Readiness Enhancement Act states that it would put an end to any sexual-orientation discrimination that stems from the current policy.

    “”It would probably make more (LGBT) people join,”” said Michael Brouse, a junior majoring in political science and psychology and former director of ASUA Pride Alliance. “”I don’t really think it would be a huge increase in the amount of people who join because a lot still do, regardless of the policy.””

    In addition to the bill, Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup and the City Council unanimously passed a resolution this month calling for the repeal of “”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell””.

    The city’s resolution was sent to President Bush and to each member of the Arizona delegation to Congress, according to a media advisory released Sept. 4.

    A 2005 Government Accountability Office report shows that “”more than 9,488 service members have been discharged under the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, including 757 service members in critical occupations, such as counterintelligence experts,”” at a $190 million cost to taxpayers, according to the resolution.

    “”These are qualified individuals who signed up to be in the military and are being discharged on a very discriminatory policy,”” Wilhite said.

    The resolution also stated that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency and other federal departments handling national security allow members to serve openly.

    There are currently an estimated 65,000 gay and lesbian Americans serving in the Armed Forces on active duty, in the reserves and in the National Guard, according to information the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network gathered from the 2000 U.S. Census.

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