What if to keep your job, you were ordered never to reveal your gender, race or ethnicity?

While in some cases others might be able to guess about the traits that make you who you are, you would not have the right to tell them — plainly and simply — so they did not have to speculate.

That would be a silly employment policy, right?

With the "don't ask, don't tell" law in place, forbidding homosexuals in the military from disclosing their sexual orientation, the U.S. has a national policy that codifies discrimination.

It is a law that is out-of-step with the times and now with public opinion.

The Star-Telegram Editorial Board has said for years that those who wish to serve and are qualified should be allowed the honor of showing their loyalty and duty to country by joining the armed forces if they so desire.

They should be able to do that without regard to race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

President Barack Obama agrees, as he said on the campaign trail and again recently.

"I will end 'don't ask, don't tell,? " Obama vowed once again in an Oct. 10 speech to a gay civil rights advocacy group.

Speaking on the eve of a massive gay rights demonstration in Washington, D.C., the president said, "We should not be punishing patriotic Americans who have stepped forward to serve the county. We should be celebrating their willingness to step forward and show such courage . . . especially when we are fighting two wars."

Well said, and as many gay activists ask: "If not now, when?"

More than 13,500 service members have been kicked out of the military since the "don't ask, don't tell" law was passed and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

Last year alone, 619 people were discharged under the provision, one-third of them women.

Other western nations, including many of our NATO allies like Britain and France, have abolished such antiquated policies and have seen no decline in morale or undue disruption among their troops — the reasons most often given by those who oppose homosexuals in the military altogether or insist on keeping the "don't ask, don't tell" policy intact.

This is one issue where the public has moved ahead of its elected leaders and many of its military brass.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll in 2008 showed that 75 percent of Americans support gays serving openly in the military. That figure is up from 44 percent in 1993.

Procrastination on this matter must come to an end. It is right that the president consult with his military leaders, but if he is serious about fulfilling his campaign promise and doing the right thing, he should be pressuring Congress on this issue even as he pushes on others on which he has called for change.

"Don't ask, don't tell" is a bad law, and every day it is allowed to stand is another day injustice prevails.

URL: http://www.star-telegram.com

—Fort Worth Star-Telegram