Over the past two days, we have been treated to new evidence about the ever-mounting costs of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Yesterday, as reported in the Washington Post, the Palm Center released new Pentagon data which demonstrated the heavy burden that “don’t ask, don’t tell” places on women. What does this mean? It means a failed policy continues to fail us.
Although women comprise only 14% of the Army, the new data show that lesbians received 48% of the Army’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” discharges last year. In the Marines, women comprise just 6% of the force, but received 23% of discharges under the policy. In the Air Force, women comprise 20% of the service but received 51% of “don’t ask, don’t tell” discharges last year. Women comprise 14% of the Navy but received 27% of the discharges.
The new data also show that the military continued to fire mission-critical specialists for being gay last year, including 8 linguists, 20 infantrymen, 16 medical aides, 7 combat engineers, 6 missile artillery operating crew members, and one member of the Special Forces, among others. This pattern is consistent with a long-term trend of firing badly-needed talent. A 2005 GAO Reportfound that the military fired 757 mission-critical specialists, including 322 linguists, in the first decade of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”