DADT: A Policy Breaking Democracy

By Summer Dowd-Lukesh '14Staff Writer

We all know the reasons that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy needs to be repealed. It is, at its core, a discriminatory, disrespectful and dangerous law. It fails to reinforce basic American values, such as equality and justice, and it sends our veterans the message that their service matters less than their sexuality. The House of Representatives agreed when they approved the Murphy amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2010-2011, effectively repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The act then went to the Senate for approval, where all Senate Republicans and two Democrats, Mark Pryor and Blance Lincoln, both of Arkansas, failed to vote to end the filibuster led by Sen. John McCain and the repeal fizzled out.

Gallup and CNN polls in 2003, 2007 and 2010 all found that between 78 and 79 percent of Americas believe that fays should be allowed to serve in the military and simultaneously be open about their sexual orientation. In March, the U.S. Department of Defense completed a study that concluded that repealing the act would not harm military effectiveness. The fact that our government can ignore the polls, the studies, and the blatant discrimination against honorable veterans paints a harrowing picture. Democratically, none of this makes sense. In a country where “all men are created equal” and where representation is the name of the game, laws like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell shouldn’t pass in the first place, let alone be left standing after military and democratic scrutiny.

In the United States Senate, it is permissible for a Senator to speak for as long as he or she wants on a given topic until three-fifths of the Senate, generally 60 Senators, invoke cloture and end the debate. This filibuster is an explicit form of obstructionism and is used to interfere with democracy in the legislative branch by blocking a vote on the bill at hand. Only 41 Senators on board are needed to uphold a filibuster, potentially representing only a cumulative 12.6% of the entire population of the U.S. In a democracy :of the people, by the people, for the people,” 12 percent of the population should not be allowed to decide the fate of such controversial legislation. And in a democracy where we respect the rule of the majority and the rights of the minority, even fifty percent of the population should not be able to revoke the right of gay Americans to serve their country proudly.

We have a broken system in a broken democracy. The recent failure to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell showcases an even more robust need for the involvement of every citizen in policy reformation. Vote often, vote well and don’t let things like a filibuster get the in the way of equality.