LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - 'Don't ask, don't tell' must go

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My father told me that, soon after he got off the boat in New York Harbor in 1914 at the age of 18, he saw signs that read: "Job Opening: Dogs and Irish Need Not Apply." I grew up with an absolute horror of prejudice, which seemed to me the worst possible sin.

From the ages of 7-17, I rooted for Jackie Robinson, the first nonviolent civil rights activist I saw, as he and others desegregated Major League Baseball, even before the military was desegregated. Then we all witnessed the miraculous appearance of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. King, in my judgment, was the most important American to have lived in the 20th century.

How is it possible, in the 21st century in the USA, 94 years after my father got here from Ireland, that we can still discriminate grossly against any group of human beings?

The "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the military is the most egregious violation of civil rights currently practiced in our country and it is authorized by the federal government.

Almost all of the 26 countries participating militarily in NATO permit gay people to serve openly. Of the permanent members of the Security Council, only the United States and China do not. Other than Greece, all European Union members permit gays to serve openly in the military.

It is nothing short of madness to claim that allowing gays to serve openly will undermine military readiness, troop morale and national security. The majority of Americans, churchgoers and Republicans included, favor repealing "don't ask, don't tell."

Candidate Obama said he would repeal "don't ask, don't tell." President Obama maintains "Congress has exclusive authority to lift the ban."

In any case, to protest this law he repeatedly claims to oppose, Obama can issue an executive order establishing a moratorium on homosexual conduct discharges. What, in God's name, is he waiting for?

Over 13,000 military personnel have been discharged from the service since 1993 because it became known they were homosexuals. Among them have been many mission-crucial personnel, including desperately needed translators of Arabic and Farsi. It has cost hundreds of millions of dollars to discharge these persons and train their replacements. When will this government-sanctioned, sexual-orientation profiling end?

Patrick Henry
Walla Walla

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