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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Be all that you can be … except gay

A Washington judge recently overruled a military decision to discharge a lesbian nurse who violated the “”don’t ask, don’t tell”” policy. Major Margaret Witt was honorably discharged after it was discovered that she was a lesbian and had been in a gay relationship with a woman for six years. Witt was discharged just before she was eligible to retire and receive benefits.  

U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton had previously ruled against Witt on the case but reconsidered after it was sent back to his court for further review. Leighton said he decided to review his decision after his family and friends told him, “”Ron, you got it wrong.”” After reviewing the case for a second time, Leighton decided Witt’s sexuality didn’t have a negative effect on her service in the Air Force, and ordered she be reinstated immediately.  

This is sure to be a strong step in the right direction toward ending the homophobia and misconceptions that are made legal by “”don’t ask, don’t tell.””  

The anti-homosexuality measure has been legitimizing homophobia since 1993, and it’s about time the abomination be disregarded. The notion that sexual orientation interferes with one’s ability to command officers in military service is absolutely ludicrous.  

The rationale for the policy is that if openly homosexual persons are serving together, it could be difficult for service members to stay dedicated to their jobs. But military branches pride themselves on their professionalism. Why is the military hesitant to trust that their soldiers can’t maintain an expected level of professionalism and restraint? Do the military branches have that little faith in their service members — those men and women who claim to “”be all they can be””?  

The fact of the matter is that the military, along with many other American institutions, are firm investors in the idea that homosexuality somehow leads to uncontrollable, deviant sexual behavior. At some point in our history, the general opinion of homosexuality became that gay men and women somehow cannot control their sexuality and will inevitably just be running around having sexual encounters left and right. By this rule, a homosexual has no sense of professionalism or any personal restraint. It’s almost as if to say that being openly homosexual is some sort of personally detrimental disorder or disease. Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

What can so obviously be concluded is that the “”don’t ask, don’t tell”” policy is solely enacted in the name of exploiting the efforts of homosexuals, while not embracing them fully as a people. Essentially, the message is this: Yes, you can die for this country; no, you can’t expect to be treated the same as all of our straight officers if we find out that you’re gay.

However prejudiced “”don’t ask, don’t tell”” is, the decision to reinstate Witt is another step in the right direction for the equality of the homosexual population. Whether it’s Republicans ignoring homosexuals and not openly attacking them in campaign stumps, or judges overturning biased military laws, the LGBTQ community is finally beginning to scratch at the surface of equality.  

No, “”don’t ask, don’t tell”” isn’t completely repealed; no, gay men and women still can’t marry in most states; and no, those on the right don’t approve of their lifestyle, but homosexuals and human rights activists across the nation can take solace in knowing that some promising movements are being made in the direction of equality.  

This country still has a long way to go before gay men and women can enjoy the same rights as straight people. With that in mind, the movement needs to keep on trucking. One day this legislation will be completely removed and we can stop treating homosexuals like lepers.

— Storm Byrd is a political science sophomore. He is also a student organizer for UA Votes, which is run by Arizona Students’ Association. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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