By Cody Littlewood
LOGAN–ROTC at Utah State University will not be affected by a change in the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, Lieutenant Colonel Paul Faletto said.t
The ROTC does not cohabitate and cohesiveness comes from the troops’ loyalty to the person on their left and right, gay or straight, Faletto said. Because they bond so closely, because you depend on people for your lives, those things don’t matter. Race, religion and sexual orientation matter not to the soldiers you work with. “What matters is, can I count on you.”
On the night of Jan. 27 during his State of the Union address, President Obama said that he would work with Congress and the military to repeal the policy. “It’s the right thing to do,” he said.
There are members of Congress who disagree with the President on the issue. Sen. John McCain said that he believes it would be a mistake to repeal the policy “especially in a time of war.”
“We don’t know when peace will come,” Faletto said in answer to this viewpoint. “To wait for a time of peace—I think you’re postponing the inevitable.”
The U.S. military was the first to integrate racial minorities and women, he said. Everyone is on the same pay scale in the military regardless of their differences.
“It’s almost like the military is a test bed for society where we figure it out in the military, and then it becomes accepted in society,” Faletto said.
The proposal of change comes after 15 years of this policy. The policy was made during the Clinton administration in 1993.
Faletto said that the military is often misunderstood. As with any group there are some who are resistant to change, but the military consists of mostly just people who wake up, go to work, and come home to their families. While he admits that some in the military are predisposed to be conservative, they are some of the most open-minded people out there.
He has known gay and lesbian officers and soldiers who have served their country honorably, he said.
Many in the gay and lesbian community at USU feel that this change is a step in a positive direction. Bonnie Knighton, president of L.I.F.E. or “Love Is For Everyone,” said that people in the community are excited. This has been a civil rights issue since the beginning, she said, and the people are ready. Now the government and policy has to catch up.
“When one policy changes other start to change,” she said.
Knighton said that the military has been missing out on a lot of valuable assets because they don’t allow openly gay citizens. The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law believes that there are 8.8 million gay, lesbian, and bi-sexual Americans.
Faletto said to the gay, lesbian, and bi-sexual students that the scholarships and opportunities are there for them, change is coming, and sexual orientation does not affect how one performs their duties to their country.