The Senate Republicans’ blocking of the National Defense Authorization Act is a sad reminder that the federal government is one of the major sources of employment discrimination against gays and lesbians in our country.
Many leading Republicans have said for years that they would defer to military leaders on the question of whether "don’t ask, don’t tell" should be repealed.
Earlier this year, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress that he supports repealing "don’t ask, don’t tell." Defense Sec. Robert Gates also supports repealing the intrusive and discriminatory policy.
It is now apparent that many of those leading Republicans were being disingenuous. They were hiding behind the military and, now that they see that the military leaders do not agree with them on this issue, they want to stop the repeal in any way that they can. Their support for "don’t ask, don’t tell" was never about maintaining military morale; it was always about pandering to people who see nothing wrong with government discrimination.
More than 13,000 qualified servicemen and servicewomen have been discharged from the military under "don’t ask, don’t tell." In addition to the injustice inherent in a policy which requires government employees to hide even many of the most mundane details of their daily lives from their co-workers, "don’t ask, don’t tell" has provided a method by which vindictive people can ruin the careers even of those service-members who have scrupulously tried to keep their personal lives hidden while at work.
One would think that David Vitter would be wary of supporting a law which dismisses people from their government jobs if their peers learn about their private sexual preferences.