Victory in battle: Reason and equality win on 'don't ask, don't tell'

Written by Susan Mannella on .

Americans think they take care of their fighting men and women.

Most people want them to have the latest combat hardware and impenetrable body armor, the best medical care and benefits to provide a seamless transition back to civilian life. Even the president's plan to freeze federal workers' pay exempted the military.

Yes, Americans like to give their men and women in uniform what they need -- except, for too many, the right to say and be who they are. That will change now that the Pentagon's outmoded "don't ask, don't tell" policy has been struck down by Congress. On Saturday the Senate joined the House in reversing the ban on gays in the military revealing their sexual orientation. President Barack Obama, who promised to end the policy, will sign the measure.

While some Americans are not on board with the change -- just as some were not when President Harry Truman signed an order bringing racial equality to the military -- it was becoming harder to maintain the armed forces' discrimination against gays.

About 14,000 service members have been discharged for being homosexual. The majority of military men and women surveyed, plus the top brass, said they favored repealing the policy. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, supported ending "don't ask, don't tell."

Soon it will be history. What counts is that a good soldier is a good soldier.

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