Gays In Military Debate Resurfaces

Former Naval Petty Officer Rhonda Davis says she now serves her country on the front lines for homosexual rights. As Randall Pinkston reports, the Navy dismissed her because she violated the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuality.

Earlier this summer, she publicly acknowledged her sexual orientation at a rally supporting gay marriage.

"I said I would like to get married. I am dating a woman, we're very much in love and this is where I broke the policy," Davis says.

Since 1994 when the don't ask, don't tell policy went into effect, an estimated 10,000 military personnel have been discharged—2,000 since the war in Iraq began. The General Accounting Office reports the coast of training and replacing them totals nearly $200 million.

The war in Iraq is taking a toll on overall recruitment, and meeting the minimum enlistment goals remains a challenge. The Pentagon says it has met this year's quotas, but that was because the Army changed its enlistment requirements and increased financial incentives just to get people to sign up.

You can now get a waver for lack of a high school diploma—even past drug use or minor incarcerations. But no branch of service will give a waiver for open homosexuality.

For that to happen, Congress has to change the law, and a House bill to do just that is encountering tough opposition.

The Pentagon contends it is following the policy set by the Commander-In-Chief. But some conservative groups say they want don't ask, don't tell eliminated because it allows gays to serve discreetly.

"Homosexuality is incompatible with military service. It's that simple," Elaine Donnelly, Director of the Center for Military Readiness says.

And critics say homosexuals in the military damage unit cohesion.

"Military people live in conditions of little or no privacy," Donnelly says. "We should not force people to reveal themselves to persons who might be sexually attracted to them."

But if the law is changed, Rhonda Davis says she's ready.

"I got my uniform hanging in the closet," she says.
  • Scott Conroy On Twitter»

    Scott Conroy is a National Political Reporter for RealClearPolitics and a contributor for CBS News.

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