DADT Sparks Discussion on Campus

By Darcy Reddan and Yaritza Diaz

A federal appeals court in California has recently ruled that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) violates the equal protection and First Amendment rights of service members.

The Supreme Court has denied a request to ban the policy, pleasing the Obama administration, which voiced its opinion that courts should not weigh in on the issue. While President Obama has made the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” one of his goals for 2010, members of the New Paltz committee expressed their feelings about the way in which repeal is being attempted.

“I feel like [Obama] made the correct choice in urging the Supreme Court to not intervene with the policy,” said political science professor Lewis Brownstein. “This is a policy matter and not a judicial one. It is up to the president and the Congress to decide the policy on the running of the military.”

Obama spoke out against the policy in his State of the Union address in January of this year, vowing to work with congress to repeal the 17-year-old policy.

Since 1993, more than 12,500 members of the military have been discharged due to their sexual orientation being made public.

Joe Pine, president of the Queer Action Coalition at SUNY New Paltz, finds it disgusting that this policy has remained in place for so long.

“How can a government office imply that accepting gays and lesbians into the military would reduce readiness?” said Pine. “This all partially links back to the media, in my opinion, which paints the queer community as all shopping, sex and drugs all the time. I am excited to see the steps forward, however, and look forward to the (hopeful) repeal of DADT.”

Other students like Juliet Beato, a third-year Latin American studies major, feel the repeal of DADT is long overdue, but that it is not the most pressing issues.

“There are other things at hand we should be worrying about, and it shouldn’t be this,” said Beato. “Yes, this is important but it shouldn’t still be a controversy to this day.”

Critics of the repeal say that an increase of openly gay soldiers would deter people from enlisting in the army. Jeff Miller, a political science professor at SUNY New Paltz, does not think the policy should remain in place and does not think effects of the repeal would harm the army.

“Those that would be deterred from an open military don’t seem to be the people we want to serve in the army,” said Miller.

Some SUNY New Paltz students question how effective a repeal of the policy would be.

For Farris Moustafa, a second-year political science and Black studies double-major who is openly gay, a repeal of DADT won’t necessarily mean an end to homophobia in the armed forces.

Student Association President  Jennifer Sanchez agreed, saying the armed forces are “intrinsically suppressive of homosexuality.”

“Even if the policy changed on paper it would take a lot of intervention to remove that mentality from our armed forces,” Sanchez said.