The commander of the college tasked with training America’s future military leaders recently learned a lesson from his son, a young Army officer.
The topic was the discriminatory U.S. policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which allowed gay men and lesbians to serve their country only if they kept their sexual identity a secret.
Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen Jr., the commander of Fort Leavenworth and the Command and General Staff College, recalls his son saying, “Dad, you might not think we already know which soldiers are gay, but we do. We all know, and it’s no big deal.”
Polls measuring public opinion and military opinion confirmed that. Politically, however, it was a very big deal, unwisely used as a conservative/liberal litmus test. Now that Congress has properly repealed the flawed policy, which began as a temporary compromise under President Bill Clinton, the military will take several months to figure out how best to put the new rules into practice.
But as a recent and comprehensive Pentagon study indicates, and the story from a general’s son confirms, the biggest hurdle in this effort was repealing an outdated and failed policy.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” gave us maddening stories, such as that of Amy Brian. She was kicked out of the Kansas National Guard despite an excellent record both in Iraq and stateside. An exemplary member of the guard, she was removed from the military because a civilian co-worker saw her kiss another woman at a Walmart.
To read the complete editorial, visit www.kansascity.com.