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The Voice - Student Newspaper

Donít ask, donít tell repealed; Compass responds

By Harper MacNeill

They number some 65,000. They are sol- diers. They are gay and lesbian and until recently, they could be discharged for their sexual preference.

In fact more than 14,000 gay soldiers were discharged for being gay since "don't ask don't tell" was signed into law by Presi- dent Bill Clinton 18 years ago."Don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) was repealed at 12:01 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept 20, 2011.

COMPASS; Gay- Straight Alliance of GCC, says the repeal of DADT will have a profound effect on the military. According to the public relations office of Compass this is a time of economic insecurity, and serving in the military can mean a stable job and a secure future.

But for the gay or lesbian student choosing a career in the military under DADT, it meant living a life in the closet."Everything was up to the commanding officer." said one student. "If the CO was open-minded, they wouldn't do anything about it. But you never knew."

The GCC students interviewed by The Voice asked not to be named.

"This is the Bible-belt," said another student. "Some cities that I have lived in are very open. Then I came here. It's very different here." She shook her head. "Even if you repeal the law, it will take time for attitudes to change. The controversial law was put into place in the 1990s under President Bill Clinton. Clinton wanted gays to serve openly in the military, but he faced tremendous opposition.

In the spirit of compromise "don't ask don't tell" was born. But though it allowed gays to serve, they could not serve openly as gay. Gays and lesbians were always under the threat of discharge if their sexual preference was discovered. "I hope for change," said the soldier. but I will take a wait-and-see attitude."

The repeal of DADT brings an end to all pending investigations, discharges and other administrative proceedings brought against service members who were gay or lesbian.

The repeal of DADT will not change existing military standards of personal conduct pertaining to public displays of affection.

The Pentagon says there are no immediate changes to eligibility standards for military benefits. All service members are already eligible to designate anyone for benefits and entitlement such as life insurance benefits or as a designated caregiver in the Wounded Warrior program.

Military personnel who were discharged under the DADT may re-enlist, but their applications will not be given priority.

Earlier this year the Navy began training their chaplains about same-sex civil unions in states where they are legal. The program was halted after more than five dozen lawmakers objected, but the Pentagon is reviewing how the issue of same-sex marriage should be handled.

The Pentagon has certified to Congress that the repeal of DADT will not undermine the military's ability to recruit soldiers or to fight wars. The United States joins Israel, England, Germany and France and the rest of the NATO Alliance countries in allowing gays to serve openly.

If you would like to know more about Com- pass: Gay-Straight Alliance please go to http://www. d=100002888096049&ref= pymk

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Content revised 10/17/11