17 Years after the IDF, the US Permits Openly Gay Men and Women to Serve in the Military

The “Don’t ask don’t tell” policy which barred openly homosexual soldiers from serving in the military was recently repealed by the Americans-however, the IDF (Zahal) has accepted them ever since 1993. Maj. Shenfield: “The IDF (Zahal) sets an example for the armies of the world.”

Date: 30/12/2010, 11:59 AM     Author: Jonatan Urich and Tzachi Biran

The President of the United States, Barack Obama, who authorized the repeal of the “Don’t ask don’t tell” policy, ruled for the first time that those who are openly gay and lesbian can serve as soldiers in the United States military. This reality became possible after extensive social activism, after which the US Senate annulled the law restricting homosexuals from serving.

The “Don’t ask don’t tell” policy was legislated 17 years ago during the presidency of Bill Clinton and intended to enable gays and lesbians to serve in the army. However, the law became a roadblock, forcing many soldiers to conceal their sexual orientation. Undoing the legislation only became possible after eight Republican Senators supported the Democratic-backed law. A majority of 65 senators voted for the repeal, which 31 opposed. The decision is considered a legislative victory for President Barack Obama’s White House, who said this week, “It is time to conclude this chapter of our history.”

” We are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot. We are a nation that believes all men and women are created equal,” said the President, who signed the bill 17 years after the IDF (Zahal) had implemented similar legislation allowing service for all regardless of sexual orientation.

In the IDF (Zahal) this is a living reality

The editor of the “Bamachane” magazine, Maj. Yoni Shenfield, an open homosexual, noted in an interview that, “I think that in the IDF (Zahal) this is already a living reality. Today there are many gay and lesbian soldiers.”

Maj. Shenfield says that he personally knows high ranking officers (Lt. Col. and Col.) who are openly gay among their subordinates. “This is proof that a military can still be seen as deterrent while accepting a range of people. Naturally, diverse people can take part in a full, equal and meaningful service.”

“In the IDF (Zahal), there was a Lieutenant Colonel who identified herself as a lesbian and ended up marrying her partner. The IDF (Zahal) helped them fund family expenses and summer camps for their children. The US military will have to deal with similar financial issues. Truthfully, the IDF (Zahal) is a model army for accepting soldiers’ sexual orientations,” added Maj. Shenfield.