Uncertainty and disarray:Revising ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’

A federal appeals court in California has temporarily re-instated the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy after another federal judge controversially struck down the policy just one week prior on the grounds that it was in violation of the First and Fifth Amendment.

The military had already begun welcoming gay and lesbian soldiers after the federal judge initially issued the injunction, and the Pentagon has accordingly temporarily suspended cases against soldiers who announced their sexuality after last week’s ruling.

Former president Bill Clinton introduced the policy in the early 1990s to deal with discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Its original purpose was to legally prevent homosexuals from being able to expose their sexual orientation to prevent discrimination that would disturb smooth military operation.

Since the policy was first instated, the military has discharged over 13,000 troops. They have also incurred upwards of $363 million dollars in expenses due to of the costs involved in recruiting and training adequate replacements, according to former defense secretary William Perry.

This decision comes at a critical point in Barack Obama’s presidency, as the midterm elections are just over a week away.

With a lot of confusion surrounding Obama’s Democrats, and the Republicans threatening to assume control of the Senate and Congress, the immediate future of this “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy appears uncertain.

The process of repealing the law would only happen after the midterm elections, at which point the Democrats could realistically have lost authority within house. September 21, 2010, the Republican population in the Senate voted unanimously against moving along a major defense bill that stipulated the injunction of the accused “unconstitutional” policy.

If the Democrats lose authority within the house, the Republican population will complicate and inhibit Obama’s ability to fulfill his political agenda, meaning the process of repealing this law could be extended and time-consuming.

“Policy changes on issues tend to happen gradually,” said Wilfrid Laurier’s professor of political science Barry Kay. “What changed with the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policy which was brought up around Clinton’s time is that homosexuals could not be sought out to be discriminated against. In time I have no doubt that in fact that will end totally.”

Kay expressed his belief that the Obama administration’s reserved position could in part be attributed to the fact that the Democrats aren’t looking for additional political grief.

In regards to whether the issue will have any sort of significant impact on the midterm elections, Dr. Kay says it is not likely.

“I don’t think a lot of the elections are going to be changed, particularly this year because the economy so dominates everything else.”