Reasons to repeal ‘don't ask, don't tell'

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Commencement season at colleges and universities is a good time for our elected leaders to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for the sake of the graduates who want to serve, for the sake of the military and for the sake of the country ["House votes to end 'don't ask' ban on gays," news story, May 28].

The reasons are clear.

First, patriotism doesn't correlate with sexual orientation. Under this law, we are inhibiting the right of young people to serve our country in these challenging times. Our students, and our young people in general, deserve the opportunity to pursue their goals, including a career in the military.

Second, one of the highest aspirations in higher education is to foster diversity -- not just tolerance but respect for the many differences that make our country what it is. It is harder to fully integrate ROTC cadets and other students with military aspirations into campus life in the face of the awkward and unfair practice of "don't ask, don't tell." This is true even at Cornell University, which has instructed future military leaders since its early days.

Repealing this act would heal the relationship between the military and academia throughout America, paying great dividends in recruitment, collaboration on public policy, education and scholarship.

David J. Skorton, Ithaca, N.Y.

The writer is president of Cornell University.

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