Since 1993, U.S. policy on gays in the military has been “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Thirteen thousand servicemen and women have been discharged under that policy. Candidate Barack Obama promised to change it.
So far, it’s unchanged. A new national campaign aims to raise the heat for change. Opponents of open gay service are digging in.
This hour, On Point: gays in the U.S. military, and the fight now over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Laura Meckler is a reporter for the Wall Street Journal
Eric Alva is an ex-marine and a volunteer with the Voices of Honor campaign which will be traveling around the country to put pressure on Washington to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He joined the marines in 1990, at age 19, and served in Somalia and was stationed in Japan and California for 10 years. In March 2003, Alva’s unit was among the first to cross Kuwait’s border into Iraq for the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Three hours into the ground war, he stepped out of his vehicle and triggered a landmine. His right leg was so badly damaged that it needed to be amputated. He became the first American wounded in the war and the war’s first Purple Heart recipient. Alva retired as a staff sergeant in June 2004.
Julie Sohn is an Iraq war veteran and former Marine Corps Captain. She has been station in Japan, Parris Island, South Carolina, and Falluja, Iraq. She was active duty from 1999 to 2003, and in the reserves from 2003 until 2008, when she was discharged for speaking publically for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. She now works for the Los Angeles Police Department in its Use of Force Division.
Patrick Murphy has represented Pennsylvania’s Eighth District, in the Eastern part of the state, since 2007. He was the first Iraq war veteran elected to Congress. He served in Baghdad from 2003-2004 as a Captain in the Army's elite 82nd Airborne Division, and was later awarded the Bronze Star for Service. He is trying to gain enough votes in the House now to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and is working closely with the Voices of Honor campaign.
Dustin Siggins joined the Federal Reserves in 2004, the New Hampshire Army National Reserves in 2006 and the Washington Army National Reserves in January 2009. He graduated from Plymouth State University in 2008. He is 23 years old and blogged about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, calling it a compromise that worked.
This program aired on July 14, 2009.