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May 12th, 2009
11:26 AM ET

It’s time for Democrats to come out of the closet about gays in the military

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption= "President Obama greets troops during a visit to Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq on April 7, 2009."]

By Robert Zimmerman
AC360° Contributor and CNN Political Analyst

In the contentious battle for the Democratic nomination for president, one of the few issues that united the candidates and the party was a commitment to end the policy toward gays and lesbians in military service referred to as “don’t ask, don’t tell.” This is the policy that requires our servicemen and women to either lie about or hide their sexual orientation in order to maintain their status in military service.

It is hard to imagine that 16 years ago this policy was regarded as an innovative approach to block the harassment and dismissal of gay and lesbian members of our armed services. Though a source of bitter controversy at that time, it was considered to be a step forward. However, it has clearly not accomplished its intended purpose and must end. President Barack Obama made that clear during the 2008 campaign and in his first 100 days in office. He has also been joined by Generals Colin Powell, John Shalikashvili, Iraqi war heroes such as Congressman Patrick Murphy and many others who have served our nation in support of that position.

So what is keeping the Democrats in the closet on this issue while brave gay men and women in the military are being fired for either being forced out of the closet or coming out on their own? Sure the Obama Administration is busy with a very full agenda. That comes with the job. The Truman Administration brought World War II to a victorious conclusion, rebuilt Western Europe under the Marshall Plan and also took the bold and controversial steps to integrate the military during a historically challenging time in our nation’s history. The Johnson Administration signed into law landmark civil rights legislation during a very contentious and divisive time for our country.

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Filed under: Gay Rights • Military
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