March 17, 2006
On March 16th, CU Law School hosted "The Call to Duty Tour" in the Lindsley Memorial Courtroom.The Call To Duty Tour is a platform for renewed debate on the merits of the “Don’t Ask, Don't Tell” policy. It features the largely unheard voices of young service members who embody the reality of “Don’t Ask, Don't Tell” (DADT) in today’s armed forces and highlights the policy’s impact in the post-9/11 World.The central question the national Tour's presenters focused on is whether gay men and women should be allowed openly to serve in the armed forces.Professor Richard B. Collins, who teaches Constitutional Law here at CU Law School and also the director of the Byron White center, filled in the details for the students the Constitutional implications of DADT policy.Speakers included recent Veterans and Special Guest Speaker Rear Admiral Alan M. Steinman.The Call to Duty Tour was conceived as a way to expose mainstream Americans to a representative sample of the ordinary gay service members who are largely forgotten amidst the politics surrounding the DADT law. These patriotic men and women would rather be serving their country as soldiers, sailors, coastguardsmen, airmen and marines than focusing on activism. However, the veterans on the Call To Duty Tour, both gay and straight, feel that gay men and women are too often misrepresented in the media and in society at large. Most importantly, their experiences while serving in today’s military largely contradict the presumptions underlying the DADT policy - presumptions which are now nearly 15 years old. While many have tried to quietly serve their country with pride and dignity, they have nevertheless experienced first hand the manner in which DADT prevents them from doing so and needlessly denies critical talent to our nation’s military. Their voices need to be heard. Their stories need to be told. It is their real-world experiences that matter most in the debate about the merits of DADT.The past year has seen monumental strides on all fronts in the movement to lift the ban on gays serving openly in the military. Log Cabin Republicans and Service members Legal Defense Network have initiated two historic legal challenges in federal court to attack the constitutionality of the DADT policy. Congressman Marty Meehan (D-MA) and over 100 cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives have introduced a bill, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, to repeal the law that mandates the ban. The military’s mounting recruiting and retention problems have risen to national attention, and new data have shown that the American public now favors lifting the ban. The Call To Duty Tour serves to help introduce conservative and neutral audiences to the arguments and issues involved in the debate, and to continue the current wave of momentum toward lifting the ban.The Call to Duty Tour began its march across the nation last month at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. The Tour will conclude its nationwide journey in early April in California.For more information, visit http://www.calltodutytour.org/.