Last week, the House voted 229 to 186 to repeal the controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy, which essentially bans gays and lesbians from coming out while in the armed services. I appreciate this gesture from the House but, to be honest, I’m not really impressed. While this vote gives the illusion of doing something, the actual repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is still a long ways down the road and isn’t, by any means, a sure thing.
The bill stipulates that no changes can be made until the Pentagon completes its study of, among other things, how homosexuals affect the military. This whole shebang isn’t going to be over with until December. [FOX]
I can’t imagine how a study like this could be legit. I mean, really, are they going to interview members of the military to see how they’d feel about sharing a room and going to shooting practice in the company of a (gasp!) gay man? I think it’s ridiculous to even posture that the introduction of “out” peeps could drastically affect one’s performance in the military. We’re talking about war here. I think the last thing a soldier, who is in unfamiliar territory and worried about getting killed, is worried about is the sexual preference of the person sleeping next to him/her at night.
Even if the Pentagon assures everyone that homosexuals in the military aren’t going to cause mass hysteria, the Senate hasn’t voted on the thing yet and probably won’t until later this summer. If it doesn’t pass there, it’s over. But, say it passes in the Senate and the Pentagon says it’s go time. There are still more steps. The president, the defense secretary and the Joint Chiefs of Staff must then certify that repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” won’t have negative effects on the military’s fighting ability. Finally, the military would also have to change its own rules to comply with the law.
Last week’s vote in the House was nice but, really, it was more of a victory for Barack Obama than anyone else. If you recall, the prez went on and on about getting rid of this discriminatory policy when he was making a run for the White House. He needed to carry through in order to please his Democratic base. His window of time was getting smaller because midterm elections are coming up and if a lot of Republicans get voted in would be even harder to repeal the policy.
To me, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” seems like a non-issue, a no-brainer. Why? First, it is absurd to think that someone’s sexuality could have a drastic impact on military performance. Don’t get me wrong: I’m sure there are a few hardcore bigots in there who hate gays so much they’d flip if they found out someone they were bunking with was into the same gender. But that is definitely not a reason to exclude gays from the military. I mean, I’m sure there are racist guys and gals in the military too, but you don’t see anyone segregating units. Second, out gay people in the military are old news! Seriously, wake up and smell the K-Y! I have friends who are in their 40s and served in the military and they encountered lots of gay men among their uniformed comrades. Did they care? Absolutely not. I guess other things just seemed more important.
The third reason “DADT” is stupid sort of goes against my pacifist ideals, but I’m going to say it anyway. Allowing gay and lesbian peeps to fight means more able-bodied men and women. I hate war, but I’m not naive enough to think that we’re going to stop fighting and all get along. As long as governments everywhere are engaging in pissing contests with each other, there’s going to be conflict. And as long as there’s conflict, we’re going to need people to engage in it. I’ll be the first to say that I don’t want to do it and most citizens are opposed to a draft, so the more people willing to join the armed forces of their own volition is, unfortunately, better. It’s the sad reality.
The choice to join the military is obviously a brave one — one I cannot personally fathom — and the fact that there are gays and lesbians who want to is even more amazing to me. Not only do they want to do something that sounds very unpleasant and scary to me—fight, kill, and face death themselves—but they want to do it in defense of a country that doesn’t even treat them as fairly as their straight counterparts. We should be applauding and rewarding them for having so much tolerance, not discriminating against them.