Gays in the military
End 'don't ask, don't tell' now
For 17 years we have had the "don't ask, don't tell" mentality in the military. I have always been uncomfortable with this policy. It forces those in the military who are gay to hide it and be less than truthful to themselves and others. If they are found to be gay, they are given a discharge because of the "fear" that it will upset the other troops they serve with.
I for one think it is not because of how it will affect the troops they serve with, but with the "management team" that is not living in the 21st century. They are still in the stone age, believing that the gay lifestyle will somehow undermine their little world.
People in the military of today are much younger and more likely to accept the gay lifestyle and are not as quick to judge others. This has become a world of acceptance everywhere but in the military. I am sure that if the Fortune 100 companies have no problem with employing gays, then there should be no problem in the military either.
Let's not wait another year to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. How many more studies are needed before we lift this ban? Surely after all these years, the military has figured it out and can accept people for who they really are.
Helene Robertson, St. Petersburg
Gays in the military
Let's ask the troops about a change of policy
There is this biting controversy about ending former President Bill Clinton's 1993 "don't ask, don't tell" law. Should we allow gays and their ilk to go unfettered into armed service for our nation?
The president seems to think so. The head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff seems to think so. But what do the troops think? As of March, 2007, 60 percent said no! And who else really matters? Are you going to go by the whims and wishes of civilian gay organizations? We're talking military here. Shouldn't the wishes of our service people be taken into consideration?
Just last month over 1,000 retired officers, including more than 50 "four-star officers," sent a letter to both the president and Congress warning that repealing the 1993 law would hurt both unit cohesion and retention in an all-volunteer army.
Is appeasing a civilian special interest group really worth sacrificing the standards and traditions that have made America's armed forces the greatest in the world? If so, then have at it, Mr. President … and get those "draft notices" ready.
Jack Karpan, New Port Richey
Dangers of delay
The Obama administration takes so long to do anything: close Guantanamo, move the terrorist trials to New York City, complete and pass a health care bill.
These endless delays have given the opposition time to organize and, aided by the media, aroused public opinion against the president's announced policies, resulting in changed, weakened or defeated plans.
Here comes the latest example of this diffident type of leadership: repealing the ban on gays serving openly in the military, an announcement one would think would be quickly implemented without a hitch, especially as Adm. Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have supported removing the ban. However, given time and the willingness to delay, the political opposition has already been able to get into gear, and the plan is now to "study" the issue for a year.
Who knows if the ban will now be removed, or what compromise may be created in its place.
Judy Moore, Lutz
Gays expect change in military ban Feb. 1, story
A reign of terror
When they repeal of "don't' ask, don't tell," female military members won't be accused of being lesbian for refusing to "put out" and male members won't be accused of being gay for not bedding every female in sight. In my 25 years in uniform, I saw way too much of that and never did see a "gay problem."
And maybe, just maybe, with the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," the armed services will focus on the sexual misconduct that turns female service members into disabled veterans who must fight the VA for the assistance they need to survive the ravages of posttraumatic stress disorder due to military sexual trauma.
The Department of Defense has reported that one in three military women will be assaulted by a male military member and that a woman who signs up to protect her country is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire, according to Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif. Yet millions of dollars are being spent to ferret out and discharge soldiers who fall in love with someone of the same sex.
I was serving before "don't ask, don't tell," and things went from bad to worse when they pushed that on us. It sent a powerful message that some who were serving were "less than equal." Discrimination and harassment of minorities skyrocketed. Female service members were sexually harassed and attacked in record numbers, as if to "prove" male heterosexuality.
This straight female veteran will be celebrating when this reign of terror is over.
Maj. Debra K. Hedding, USAF, retired, Lutz
Call to let gay troops serve, story, and Ending bias in military can't wait, editorial | Feb. 3
Sen. John McCain says the "don't ask, don't tell" policy "has been effective," but neglects to explain how. In what way is ousting 13,000 well-qualified, well-trained personnel somehow "effective"? Especially in light of the much-needed Farsi and Arabic linguists who were helping to fight two already-too-costly wars. "Effective" in accomplishing what, exactly? (Comforting the biased is my guess.)
The front page article's title is misleading: Gays already serve their country, some with distinction. They're just currently required to lie about themselves.
And though I agree with the editorial suggestion that ending bias in the military can't wait, we must never lose sight of the fact that, in something like 30 states, you can be fired (or not hired in the first place) for any job merely because you're gay, or even if the boss thinks you are, and it's 100 percent legal.
George Olds, Clearwater
Unasked questions | Feb. 2, letter
Following the money
The letter writer suggests that President Barack Obama should have embarrassed the Republican leaders by asking them, "How much money did you take from lobbyists last year, and how much did it affect your vote?"
President Barack Obama is certainly smarter than to ask a question like that. According to the Center for Responsive Politics as cited in the left-leaning Huffington Post, lobbyists have made 70 percent of their donations to Democrats.
This is not a Democrat vs. Republican decision either. If you wanted a policy enacted or a law passed, whom would you give your money to? Those in power, of course! In 2006, when the Republicans were in power, they received 63 percent.
Marti Kleiner, Tampa
Silent Thomas holds court | Feb. 3, story
Slighting a rare sight
Hmm, let me see. Should we have front-page coverage of "one of the rarest sights in American jurisprudence" or blue people?
Blue must be the new hot color. I think I'll paint my bathroom Avatar blue.
Cecelia LeClair, St. Petersburg