Sep 262011
 
Authors: Andrew Carrera

A week after the nation’s ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military was repealed, the CSU Reserve Officer Training Corps has implemented the new policy without incident.

The policy, known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” required gay, lesbian and bisexual soldiers to keep their sexuality to themselves or be discharged from the armed forces.

President Barack Obama abolished the rule on Sept. 20, saying, “Every American can be proud that we have taken another great step toward keeping our military the finest in the world and toward fulfilling our nation’s founding ideals.”

As the professional military has been impacted by the repeal, so have ROTC programs on college campuses, who must now accommodate openly homosexual students in their ranks.

Cadets received training on how to prepare themselves for the policy change in the spring 2011 semester so military readiness, effectiveness, cohesion, recruiting and retention would be preserved, and army values could be adhered to.

Since the repeal, said Jeremy Byram, CSU Army ROTC public affairs officer, the normal day-to-day operations of the battalion have not been interrupted, as no public dissensions to the change have occurred.
In an unclassified email sent to ROTC students on the day the ban was lifted, Lt. Col. Channing Moose, the battalion’s professor of military science and leadership, told students he sensed “it really wasn’t (and isn’t) a major issue.”

“If anyone, including you, has issues, concerns, or questions, ask them to schedule an appointment with me or their instructor,” he wrote.

According to Byram, if a member of ROTC brought up that they were homosexual before the repeal, their scholarship would subsequently be removed, and the student would no longer be allowed to serve.

Resource centers for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community are tempering their excitement at the strides toward equality in the military with the knowledge that the full effects of the new rules remain to be seen.

“It’s too early for anyone to make any definitive statement about the impact of the repeal,” said Amy Drayer, vice president of strategic initiatives for the GLBT Community Center of Colorado.

While no instances of backlash against homosexual ROTC service members have been reported, many are still “somewhat selective” in who they reveal their orientation to because they fear the consequences of doing so, said Charles Irwin, executive director of the Colorado Springs Pride Center.

“They’re not certain if this is really real,” he said. “There has been so many times where (rights have) been earned or accomplished and then, a short period later, repealed.”

In last Thursday night’s Republican primary presidential debate, an openly gay soldier asked candidates whether they would reinstitute “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” if voted into office. Rick Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, said he would.

Even those who do come out to those around them are at risk of being treated unfairly by their superiors, said Irwin, adding that there are no anti-discrimination policies protecting someone who identifies as homosexual at the federal level, unlike other factors such as race and gender.
“They can’t kick us out, but they can still discriminate,” he said.

Reservations about the repeal also stem from the fact the new rules protect gays, lesbians and bisexuals from being discharged, but not transgender service members. The military’s medical policy states that transgender persons have gender identity disorder and are therefore unfit for service on administrative grounds.

Even still, Drayer is optimistic about the relationship between self-identified homosexuals and the armed forces.

“The LGBT community has never had a problem with the actual military. It’s been a specific policy that’s been carried out that’s kept us as second class citizens,” Drayer said. “We have the finest military in the world.”

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 3:15 pm

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