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Don't Ask, Don't Tell

The issue of homosexuality is one of the most debatable and controversial question in modern society. In spite of its historical roots, homosexuality has not been accepted by masses yet. In order to analyze "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy, it is important to cite the opinion of psychiatrist and medical professionals. The traditional view among psychiatrists that homosexuality is an emotional illness, a view still held by many despite the psychiatric association's stand,  is coupled with the belief that its only effective treatment is psychotherapy. A "cure," then, would mean that the homosexual is converted to heterosexual behavior -- with a preference for members of the opposite sex. .

For a long time, rights and opportunities of homosexual men were limited by strict codes and military laws prohibited anyone who "demonstrates intent to engage in homosexual acts" (Alexander and Hartman 2003, p. 7)."Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy was introduced by President Bill Clinton in 1993. According to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy, “sexual orientation will not be a bar to service unless manifested by homosexual conduct. The military will discharge members who engage in homosexual conduct” (Alexander and Hartman 2003, p. 10). The aim of this policy is to allow homosexual men to serve the army in spite of their sexual orientation. Thus, this policy is considered illegal because it violates legal norms and the Constitution, and deprives citizens human rights and freedoms (Mohr 34).

The rational of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy is based on the idea that homosexuals keep silent about their preference, and few of their neighbors know about it. More and more, however, homosexuals are declaring their choice publicly, "coming out of the closet," as they put it. When homosexuals are not "coming out" singly, they may do so as members of organizations, among them the Gay Liberation Front, the Mattachine Society, the Student Homophile League, the Gay Activists Alliance, Gay Vietnam Veterans, and Dignity, a group of homosexuals. Such groups, their members feel, will help win community acceptance of their cause and dispel some of the many myths about homosexuality (Alexander and Hartman 83). The law states: “The presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability” (US Code 2010). The acceptance, however, is not easily won. Homosexuality, whether it is seen as a medical disorder or a way of life, remains an emotion-filled issue. Many people still have difficulty discussing the subject and, when they do, it is usually in outrage (Mohr 34).

Taking into account statistical results, public opinion polls have demonstrated time and again that the majority of U.S. citizens feel homosexuals ought to be punished for homosexual acts, even though they are performed in private, and believe that homosexuality is more detrimental to society than adultery. The law is quite hard on homosexuals. In a majority of the states, sodomy (sexual intercourse between males) is illegal and may be punished by heavy prison sentences (Alexander and Hartman 44). Cities have successfully barred homosexuals from buying or renting homes, and there are any number of cases of discrimination against homosexuals in the business, professional and academic worlds. The military services have traditionally released homosexuals with a "less than honorable" discharge, and a homosexual would still find it difficult to obtain a security clearance for employment with the CIA or FBI. In 1975, the case of Air Force Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, a decorated Vietnam veteran, made headlines. Matlovich told his superiors he was homosexual and became involved in a lengthy battle to prevent the Air Force from forcing him out of the service. The sergeant, whose story was the subject of a nationally televised drama, lost his court fight to stay on his job, one that he had handled admirably. He could have remained in the service if he had not made his sexual preference public. But despite the facts that the homosexual has rights as a human being -- rights to respect, justice and everything that heterosexuals take for granted -- the homosexual man or woman is probably still, in the words of Michael Brown, founder of the Gay Liberation Front, a member of the most persecuted, harassed minority group in history. Some of this harassment is based on the fear of many parents and psychologists that too much emphasis on the issue might adversely affect the very young whose sexual identities have not yet fully developed (Alexander and Hartman 101). In spite of great changes in social and legal acceptance of homosexual men, the Code states:

?The armed forces must maintain personnel policies that exclude persons whose presence in the armed forces would create an unacceptable risk to the armed forces’ high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability” (U.S. Code 2010).

Military can be justified in practicing this policy because the military organization differs greatly from other institutions. Military is an institution that requires enforced intimacy and lack of privacy. It modified his initial definition of the gay ban issue as a matter of individual rights by arguing, in effect, that individuals had the right to serve-regardless of their sexual orientation--provided that their behavior was acceptable (Bowling et al 2005). “Officially the federal stance was that integration (of blacks, females, and most recently homosexuals) would damage morale, discipline, and good order” (Bowling et al 412). "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy can be seen as legal because it allows military to avoid sex discrimination but protects the institution from homosexual men and women (Alexander and Hartman 2003).  Another advantage of this policy is that it grants gay men a "right to serve" without regard to their sexual orientation. This act allows gay Americans to live their lives free of discrimination (Mohr, 31; Davis, 24).

One of the alternative solutions to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy is to change the Uniform Code of Military Justice and allow homosexual men and lesbian women service the army. In order to ensure the discipline, the code should stipulate norms and rules of behavior similar to those developed for all military staff.  Closet gays do not cause feelings of invasion of privacy precisely because they are covert (Alexander and Hartman 87). One could argue that homosexuals can be accommodated in the military by rearranging living areas as we already do for men and women. The society could have separate homosexual and heterosexual living quarters. Whatever such arrangements might do in the name of abstract individual rights, they raise more problems than they solve. It boggles the mind to think of the stigmas and nicknames that would accrue to all-homosexual groups. In any event, gay rights advocates have never seriously pushed for this option (Alexander and Hartman 81; Brouwer, 412).

Some of these people might, of course, be truly homosexual. But chances are that they are not. Millions of men and women have, however, had a sexual relationship with same-sex partners. According to estimates of the noted sex researchers Alexander and Hartman (81) male homosexuals make up about 4 percent of the U.S. population, female about 2 percent. These figures, however, refer to men and women who are exclusively homosexual -that is, who do not date members of the opposite sex at all. Defining homosexuality adequately is a difficult task. What is certain is that an isolated sexual act with a member of the same sex does not necessarily mean either or both of the participants are homosexuals. Many men and women have at some time had sexually exciting physical contact with members of their own sex, sometimes to the point of orgasm. They are not considered true homosexuals by the psychiatrists and psychologists who have looked into the condition. For many years, real homosexuality which means that the individual regularly chooses a member of the same sex as a sexual partner, as a lover has been explained in numerous ways. It has been called learned behavior, a personality disorder, a sexual deviation, a mental imbalance, a hormone-deficiency disease, and a moral weakness. In 1973, in a major shift in attitude, the American Psychiatric Association reversed a position it had held for nearly a hundred years and declared that homosexuality is not a mental illness (Alexander and Hartman 815)

In the military setting, gender orientation concept known as sexism, or chauvinism, and it is the sort of thing that has led to all of the injustices women have been subjected to, on the job and in their social lives. It is also what conditions a man not to show tenderness in public. The proper reinforcement of gender traits means reminding boys and girls that they are males and females, similar in feelings and desires and abilities, yet different in significant biological ways and roles. The subject is debated continually by behavioral scientists, and while the physical differences are fairly obvious, the psychological ones, when they exist, are not always. Suffice it to say that the potential for being a mother or a father, the unique nature of the sex hormones, and how much we imitate our fathers and mothers, or are encouraged to do so, all play a major part in making us behave in the ways that are special to sex. Despite the fact that many psychiatrists feel that reverting to heterosexuality is the only logical step for homosexuals, many homosexuals simply do not wish to change. They resent any suggestion that they are "sick." Their preference, they believe, is as acceptable a form of behavior as heterosexuality. And they have asked that the courts and the community recognize this (Estes 22). Reinforcing appropriate sexual traits, as suggested earlier, is important for healthy, normal emotional growth. But much of the ill feeling aimed at homosexuals is grounded in myths and misconceptions, in strong definitions of "normal" and "abnormal," and in a morality that stretches back to the days when humans first began keeping records (Alexander, and Hartman 32).

In sum, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy is illegal because it violates human rights and equal rights granted by the Constitution, it deepens discrimination and oppression of gay men and lesbian women. True, some homosexuals do fit the stereotype, but they are in the minority. Homosexuality has been with us since the dawn of history; that should have been long enough to soften its shock. But that's not the way it is, and it may well be that society will never accept it, no matter how many homosexuals come out, or how many gay rallies and marches are held. It is important to understand that homosexuals do not fit one stereotype, one mold, and that they do not all become homosexuals for the same reasons. They are as different in their attitudes toward sex as any group of heterosexuals are. Some are promiscuous, and the rate of venereal disease among homosexuals who have numerous sex partners is high. But we cannot ignore the fact that most homosexuals want just what most of us want: warm relationships, someone special who cares, an opportunity to live and work as they choose, understanding. It is good for us to remember that while people might argue that homosexuality is wrong, or not for society, criticism ought to focus on the condition, not on condemning the person who is caught up in it.

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