Gays in the Military Essay

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For nearly 50 years, it has been the U.S. military's official policy to exclude homosexuals from service. In November 1992, President - elect Clinton told Americans that he planned to lift the military's long - standing ban on gays and lesbians. Homosexual men and women, he said, should not be prevented from serving their country based on their sexual orientation. Soon after taking office in 1993, Clinton faced powerful military and congressional opposition to lifting the ban. General Colin Powell, then - chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Senator Sam Nunn, who was chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee between 1987 an 1994 and left Congress in 1996, announced that they would seek to block his attempts to lift the ban.…show more content…
Many see the right to serve openly in the military as a fundamental civil right for gays and lesbians. Groups such as the Service members Legal Defense Network (SLDN) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have supported gay service members in legal challenges to the policy. In 1997 SLDN documented 563 violations of the policy. The Clinton administration and military leaders defend the current policy and the way it has been enforced. They argue that allowing gay people to serve openly would harm military readiness by destroying troops' morale and disrupting order and discipline. Policy defenders argue that the military is a special institution that holds itself to stricter rules than those observed by the rest of society. Because the armed forces must fulfill the crucial mission of defending the U.S. and its allies, they say, its leaders' views on how to achieve optimal readiness should be respected. Pentagon officials say that while they believe the current policy is working well, they will investigate cases of alleged abuse. Gay people have not always been barred from military service, and in fact, have served in the nation's wars throughout its history. The military's official stance toward gays and lesbians has evolved over time, often in tandem with social change. In the 1920's and 1930's, homosexuality was treated as a criminal offense, punishable by imprisonment. That attitude began to change in the early 1940's,

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