Commentary: Political cowardice on display over 'don't ask, don't tell'

The U.S. Senate made a mistake in refusing to repeal "don't ask, don't tell," the flawed policy prohibiting gay and lesbian Americans from openly serving in the military.

Let's hope senators can muster the courage to right the longstanding wrong in the lame duck period after the November elections and before the new Congress is seated. But lesbian and gay members of the military shouldn't have had to wait another couple months to achieve their civil rights.

The policy, which allows gays and lesbians to serve in the military as long as they hide their sexuality, is long past its sell-by date and needs to go.

When proposed by President Bill Clinton and passed by Congress in 1993, "don't ask, don't tell" seemed like a decent compromise, no longer barring gay and lesbian troops outright.

But the rule requires those defending their country to hide their identities or face expulsion. The fallacies of the policy have become painfully apparent in the ensuing years.

Many in America's military brass want the rule jettisoned. The American public overwhelmingly wants to see it repealed.

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