Obama’s Major Military Mistake

   The military policy, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” stated that homosexuals were not permitted to openly discuss their sexual orientations. They would be discharged from their duties upon violations. On December 22nd, 2010, President Barack Obama repealed the controversial policy. However, there were several overlooked mistakes that disrupted the integrity and unity of the United States military.

   Originally “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” stated that not only were gays forbidden to discuss their personal status, but also any military member would not harass anyone regarding same-sex interests. This meant that men or women who teased their peers about being homosexual with or without any empirical proof would face punishment. Thus when President Obama repealed the act, people were allowed to harass others who declared that they were gay or lesbian.

   According to Peter Sessum of the University of Washington, “Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) prohibits all same-sex sexual activity, as well as some acts that could be performed by a man and a woman.” Thus repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” without changing Article 125 created a problematic situation for homosexuals. A commander can now legally ask a member of the military if he or she is gay and can order an answer. By law the member must comply. If a person admits to being gay and sexually active, that service member under the Uniform Code of Military Justice can be kicked out, and imprisoned for up to five years; refusing to answer, on the other hand, can result in administrative action of being discharged for disobeying a lawful order.

   Another mistake Obama made was his inability to recognize the laws and procedures of his own military. Upon repealing the policy, Obama gladly encouraged former members who were discharged to rejoin their respective departments. However, Sessum pointed out that the Air Force does “not accept people with prior military service. If a person’s discharge was classified as dishonorable, which could be the case in some discharges for violation of policy, rejoining any military service is not an option for that person.” Through the last 14 years, the Service Members Legal Defense Network reported that 2,477 Air Force were formally relieved of their duties. Thus the president’s statement did not acknowledge the accounts of more than two thousand former members being unable to reenlist.

   Although the problems with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” lingered, Obama did have the right intentions when he repealed it. It was an outdated policy, but it needed to be changed, not repealed. Sessum added, “Adapting the policy to reflect our current society’s views of gays across the United States would have been a better option.” More importantly, the Uniform Code of Military Justice needed to change instead of placing homosexuals in a dilemma where they would either be discharged or imprisoned. Obama repealing while not changing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was perhaps his most thoughtless decision regarding the ethical well-being of the military.