This week's topic: What should the military do about the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy? -- Ed.
Lund's Punch: This issue has proven to be one of the biggest political hot potatoes of the past 20 years. Although the president said he would act to repeal the policy, members of the House, Senate and Defense Department remain divided.
While the Senate Armed Services committee, under the leadership of Senator Carl Levin, has agreed to language in their defense bill to repeal the policy, the House Armed Services Committee wont act until a Defense Department study is completed. If the study shows that repealing the policy will improve unit cohesion and readiness, then the House Committee might move forward.
Overall, any change in policy should only be undertaken after considering all sides. Nobody should make a decision simply to score political points especially if it damages the effectiveness of the U.S. military.
Frieber's Punch: The military should repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and allow LGBT servicemen and women to serve openly.
Removing the ban is in our strategic interest. As the military faces growing personnel shortages, removing the ban enlarges the pool of eligible military recruits and aligns U.S. foreign policy with that of its military allies. Britain, Germany and Israel all allow gays and lesbians to serve openly, without any evidence of adverse effects on morale.
Writing in the middle of the 20th century, Gen. Omar Bradley wrote that racial integration “might seriously affect morale and thus battle efficiency.” Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell rests on the same worn and bigoted misconceptions. Our servicemen and -women who risk their lives for our freedom and security shouldn’t have to lie about who they are to continue serving our country honorably.
Lund's Counterpunch: This is not a question of integrationm as gays and lesbians are already able to serve in the military, so making a comparison to racial integration is inappropriate. If Congress decides to repeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, then it will be the law of the land, as the president has pledged to sign it. However, it is important to hear from the military first.
Friberg's Counterpunch: Sure, the repeal of this discriminatory law is a political hot potato, much as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a political hot potato -- this doesn’t mean Congress should sit on its hands while those who serve our country are forced to lie about themselves.
The amendment passed by the house this week allowing military commanders to repeal the ban is long overdue.
Aaron Friberg, the president of the San Diego County Young Democrats, graduated UCLA Law in May 2009 and will begin as an associate attorney of Latham & Watkins LLP in the fall
Andrew Lund is the president of the San Diego Young Republicans