Gays in the Military

Should the ban on homosexuals be lifted?
By Peter Katel, September 18, 2009

Political passions over the ban on open homosexuality in the U.S. military are stirring again. A new legislative fight on the issue may be headed for House and Senate hearings as early as this fall. Iraq War veteran Rep. Patrick J. Murphy, D-Pa., is proposing legislation to end sexuality-based discrimination in the armed forces. Under the “don't ask, don't tell” policy, gays and lesbians are barred from military service unless their orientation stays hidden. The policy was designed as a compromise to a 1993 call to lift the ban. Supporters of the policy say dropping it would degrade the “unit cohesion” that is critical to battlefield effectiveness. But Murphy and some other recent vets argue that most of today's warriors don't care about their comrades' sexuality. In another element of political drama, some gay political activists are questioning President Barack Obama's level of commitment to pushing for repeal, as he has promised to do.

The Issues

  • Can military units function effectively with openly homosexual members?
  • Is the “don't ask, don't tell” approach to differentiating sexual “orientation” from conduct a viable compromise?
  • Should the United States follow other countries' examples and allow gays to serve openly in the military?
To view the entire report, login to CQ Researcher Online [subscription required], or purchase the CQ Researcher PDF