The armed forces supposedly prides itself on its honesty and integrity, but this policy promotes lying. Dishonesty in any other facet of military life, such as cheating on an exam, would result in an immediate dishonorable discharge. Underhandedness in this regard, however, is encouraged and is in fact necessary for a homosexual individual to retain his or her position.
Further underscoring the policy's failure is its lack of rational basis. Other limiting military regulations, such as the one preventing women from serving in combat--while still suspect--can be somewhat reasonably justified on the basis of physiological differences in ability between men and women that may become important on the battlefield. But homosexual soldiers come in all shapes and sizes, just like heterosexual soldiers. There is no external difference between the ability of gay and straight soldiers to serve well, as many homosexual soldiers have proven.
The only solution is allowing complete openness in sexual orientation. No longer would there be whispered rumors and unfounded suspicions that escalate into finger-pointing and abuse. With the issue out in the open, soldiers would be forced to accept their gay peers as individuals unique in their own right, not as strange marginalized beings.
Eliminating this discriminatory policy does seem possible in the near future. Both Al Gore '69 and Bill Bradley have called the "don't ask, don't tell" policy a failure and promise to allow homosexuals to serve openly in the military if they are elected. While some discomfort among close-minded people may initially arise, the overall effect will promote dialogue and understanding. Discomfort is not a valid justification for discrimination and prejudice. The current policy only causes witch-hunts and limits individuals' free expression. Although Private Winchell can never return, this much-needed, long-awaited change in military policy can prevent such atrocities from occurring in the future.
Lorrayne S. Ward is a first-year living in Canaday Hall.