I applaud our president for his willingness to finally put an end to the so-called “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding gays, lesbians and bisexuals in the military.
This policy, while a bit more tolerant than actively searching out gays and lesbians and driving them from the military, was nevertheless a troubling practice for many of us.
Certainly, many of you who have visited my blog (Veritas Libertas at naplesnews.com/blogs) must at this point be in a state of shock that I actually agree with President Barack Obama on this issue, but as a libertarian I stand firm on the side of any policy that recognizes the rights of citizens to privacy and individual freedom and discretion.
Granted, there is the belief among many — both within and outside of the military — that this policy is needed to promote troop morale and to effectively manage and command troops.
However, a 2006 Zogby International poll of men and women in the armed services indicated that 73 percent of those polled are comfortable with serving with openly gay, lesbian and bisexual military personnel. According to a 2009 Gallup poll, this view is also shared by 60 percent of the general public.
Obama’s decision to eliminate this practice — which effectively discriminates against those targeted by it — was undoubtedly motivated at least in part by the refusal of the Supreme Court to consider a challenge to this policy in June. This refusal put the onus on the president to finally follow through with his campaign promises to the nation’s gay, lesbian and bisexual communities.
I am sure I speak for many on both sides of the political and ideological aisle by congratulating him for doing the right thing and demonstrating courage and determination to end a long-lived, shameful policy.
I could only hope that I could agree with the president on more policy initiatives and still hope that he will yet demonstrate a greater degree of wisdom, courage and determination in dealing with other pressing national and international concerns.
Moreover, while I applaud him for listening and responding to the needs and values of members of the gay, lesbian and bisexual communities, I would hope that he would also listen and incorporate the values of the nation’s conservatives into his agenda, thereby demonstrating that he is president for all Americans and not just those he happens to agree or identify with.
Wimberley teaches courses in philosophy and ethics and environmental public policy at FGCU. He holds a doctorate in public affairs from the University of Pittsburgh and served as the founding dean of FGCU’s College of Education and College of Professional Studies. He is an ordained Presbyterian minister and serves as a part-time chaplain at Moorings Park in Naples.