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Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy

July 9, 2009

There has been a lot of buzz lately surrounding the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy regarding gay servicemembers. Much of this has to do with the fact that President Obama promised during his campaign to overturn this outdated policy. But for many, like me, this change is not coming soon enough. According to the media President Obama had too many other issues to focus on early in his Presidency, so DADT had to wait. Even though recently he has begun consulting top defense advisers on how to lift the ban, no one can be sure when that will happen. Defense Secretary Gates has recently said that they are looking into the current policy to see whether or not some gays can still serve if they don’t out themselves. Meaning, if they were outed by some jilted lover or odd circumstance that maybe they can still serve. My opinion on this is: stop wasting your energy on this, and fix the real problem. Looking for loopholes in the broken policy is like putting a bandaid on a gunshot wound. It will do nothing to fix the issue and will cause further anger from those looking for real answers.

President Obama: Do Better. I voted for Obama for many reasons, one of them being his stance on DADT. But right now I am downright angry about this. There are many very qualified and decorated servicemembers that are being fired for something that has no impact on their job whatsoever. Recently two active duty men Lt. Dan Choi – a West Point graduate and Arabic Linguist in the National Guard, and Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach-an Air Force Fighter Pilot came out of the closet and have been fired by their respective branches of service. They are both fighting this. There have been millions and millions of dollars spent training just these two men alone. They are not being fired for anything related to their actual service to their country. In fact, they are highly regarded and decorated servicemen. No, they are being fired because of their sexual orientation.

But with the recent media coverage, I am sure you have heard much of that before. Have you heard this, since January 20th there have been over 280 gay servicemembers fired? Did you also know that in under a week over 124,000 people have signed a petition to House Speaker Pelosi urging her to make repealing DADT a priority?

I do not understand why people oppose overturning DADT. I honestly and truly do not get what the big deal is. Are people afraid that if this is changed and gay people are able to openly serve in the military, that there will be an increase in violence? I honestly believe that there won’t. Because I think that the men and women serving in our military are better than that. I believe that they want to do their jobs, and protect our country and fight for our freedoms. They want to do their missions and get home safely to their families. I do not believe for one second that because there is a gay person serving in their unit that it will detract from their safety. And there have been studies done to prove this.

“From this country’s inception, the military has created effective and cohesive fighting units from a fractious and heterogeneous population.” […] and the inclusion of racial and religious minorities in the military has occurred against a wider social backdrop of ethnic hostility, harassment and violence. From a more expansive historical perspective, Evans finds that “the U.S. military has repeatedly been able to attenuate the divisions, antagonisms and distrust that have troubled American culture more broadly. Despite repeated resistance, the U.S. military has throughout its history created cohesive and effective fighting units out of a fractious and diverse collection of civilians, integrating service members with vast differences in cultural background, religious practices, language and belief systems.”

I am not the only LeftFace member that has had a gay family member serve in the military. My uncle served in the Navy during the late 60s. He is very proud to have served in the military, and has fond memories of his time in the Navy. Of course times are much different now, but given the chance to serve his country while being open about his sexuality would have led him to have a much longer career in the Navy. He chose to leave because it was too much of a burden to pretend to be something he was not.

It is not fair for us as a country to tell gay people that – yes you can serve your country, but you have to hide who you really are. You can die to protect the freedoms of others, but you cannot really be free yourself. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell needs to be repealed NOW. All people deserve equal rights. ALL people.  After all, isn’t that the premise on which our great country was founded upon?

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. July 9, 2009 12:09 pm

    I was listening to Genevieve Chase’s remarks at the press conference and smiled when she talked about already serving with gay soldiers. Then I remembered when one of the testosterone gunslingers (thanks Sue, for that phrase) at Milblogs said “I’d never serve with some gay guy” and I smiled to myself. I’ll take a very safe bet that he already has, without knowing it.

    To throw out Choi and the others – makes absolutely NO sense at all. NONE. If a man or woman is willing to join the military and make that commitment, why is their sexual orientation a consideration? I still don’t get it.

    LAW

  2. July 9, 2009 12:12 pm

    Amen!

    I have never understood why a gay individual has to hide their sexual preferences in order to serve and keep their jobs, but a fellow soldier (et al) who is sexist, racist, cheats on their spouse, cheats on their taxes or does other ACTUALLY morally questionable behaviors can be open about it and have NO fear, whatsoever, about their job security.

    It boggles the mind. I hope this gets overturned. SOON.

    • kimba permalink
      July 10, 2009 9:53 am

      Well, unless you’re a woman. And the man in this equation showed up at his next gig without having been punished at all, according to co-workers of his I chatted with at a party.

    • Luke Murphy permalink
      September 28, 2010 9:31 am

      That is not true at all! The UCMJ which is the Law for military memebers clearly states that adultery is a punishable offense you can even recieve a dishonorable discharge for it. Taxes, what are you talking about? The military takes taxes out of every service members pay. Did you just start talking before you thought about what you were saying? its this kind of behavior that hurts the liberal cause. Take a minute to check the facts before you put in your “two cents”, make sure you don’t sound like an idiot.

      • libarmywife permalink
        September 30, 2010 8:30 am

        Luke, since every single author on this blog is a military spouse, the phrase “preaching to the choir” comes to mind. NO SHIT, giving up rights is something we are very well acquainted with. and as for sounding like an idiot – good grief wake up and look around! living in your happy little world, where every adulterous spouse is locked up or given any other UCMJ punishment must be wonderful. Taxes – do you want to really maintain that no member of the military has ever fiddled his/her tax return? seriously? would you like to talk to the deadbeat dads in the military – oh yes, there are more than a few. I’m proud of being a military wife, but I don’t think that every man or woman in uniform is a perfect saint.

        David – thinking like yours is antiquated, and ridiculous. a choice? For goodness sake, pull your head out of the 18th century!

        LAW

  3. July 9, 2009 1:13 pm

    Britain, Canada, Australia, and Israel have allowed gays to serve openly in their respective militaries for years, and it doesn’t appear that they’re any worse for it. I don’t understand why the U.S. is so far behind on this one, especially with two wars going on.

    As my sweetie (who is black) points out to the pro-DADT folks, 62 years ago few people wanted to integrate him into the military, either. Truman’s executive order wasn’t necessarily popular at the time, but it was the right thing to do. I hope Obama acts on this quickly.

  4. July 9, 2009 1:44 pm

    Well said!

    Study after study has been done showing that having openly gay people serving in the military would not harm unit cohesiveness. And when groups like Vote Vets want the policy changed, I think that congress and President Obama should listen.

    It is an archaic policy. As Bette said, lets get with the times and git rid of DADT!

  5. Wishful Bohemian permalink
    July 10, 2009 5:32 am

    The DADT policy makes even less sense when you see first hand the hardships recruiters face trying to fill the gaps left by perfectly competent, honorable, and in many cases distinguished, service members kicked out because of it. REp. Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania had an interesting take on it on the Rachel Maddow show a couple of days ago: calling it a national security issue to be depriving our forces of the resources they need to fight a 2-front war. I think he’s right to take it out of the religious/moral arena and phrase it in those terms. Much as I’d like to rant about how backwards and crazy-fundamentalist the anti-gay attitudes are, it doesn’t help my anti-DADT argument. Get it repealed, get every service member the same protection, THEN I can point and laugh at the stupid right-wing wackos.

  6. kimba permalink
    July 10, 2009 10:02 am

    Never Apart in Heart and I have many things in common, one of which is a close family member who served their country honorably for many years and who had to hide who they were to do it. It’s crap, and Obama needs to step up and fix it NOW. I’d say it was one of the reasons he got my vote, but let’s be honest here, there’s no way I was going to vote for McCranky and Sarah “word salad” Palin. Still, as Commander-in-Chief, Obama has the power to stop enforcement of this absurd policy until Congress can get the job done, and he needs to use it. As Tucker would say, DO BETTER.

    • Wishful Bohemian permalink
      July 10, 2009 10:23 am

      DADT was enacted by congress. If President Obama signs an executive order halting the enforcement of legal policy, he’s basically saying, “Screw congress, we’re gonna do things my way.” Which is basically what Bush did for 8 years, and I don’t remember my fellow libs being very happy with that. We need to repeal the law through the proper channels, i.e. congress, to ensure our gay service members are *protected* under the law, not just *excused*.

      • July 10, 2009 10:29 am

        this was a point brought up on Maddow (or was it Keith…) the other night. and while I want this overturned NOW, and YESTERDAY, I agree that we don’t need more “executive notes in the margin”. I’m wondering, could he issue an executive “temporary stay” in the proceedings and let Congress do it’s very very very slow thing? Would that then have the full force and effect we need to stop the discharges, while still permitting the rule making/policy making that we need for this to be done “properly”?

        yea gods, do I do enough “quote/unquote” in that paragraph? working for lawyers – I’m forgetting how to write.

        LAW

        • July 10, 2009 10:31 am

          LAW I was thinking the same thing.

        • Wishful Bohemian permalink
          July 10, 2009 11:03 am

          I don’t know enough about the legalese of such actions to know if the answer to that is “yes”, but it sure sounds good. I’m just suspicious of band-aid fixes that have the potential to fall apart later. What I would definitely like to see is continued pressure from the administration to get the bill written/put to the vote and I’m not seeing enough of that to make me super happy. It’s a conversation that can’t afford to be swept under the table.

        • July 10, 2009 10:37 pm

          As much as I would love to see Obama seriously knocking heads on this issue, I do understand that it will take Congress to truly overtrun this inane policy. In the meantime, though, Obama CAN pass an executive order to halt any pending DADT related dismissals. This is why I get angry about his lack of speed on this issue – there are steps that can be taken right now and he is not taking them.
          I keep thinking about Bette’s Toasted post and really, I want to be able to sit at a table full of happy gay soliders and their spouses (yes, spouses!) rather than a bunch of cranky, rude hetero spouses at the next military ball I go to.

      • July 10, 2009 10:29 am

        I agree, but at the same time… while they drag their feet to get anything really done many people suffer. If an executive order is not the right thing to do, then actually overturn this law. Now.

        • July 10, 2009 8:30 pm

          that, my dear, takes a while! making new laws, overturning legislation, means hearings and lobbyists and all that jazz… why the Rep. is doing what he’s doing.

          LAW

      • kimba permalink
        July 11, 2009 1:14 am

        …until Congress can get the job done…

        I don’t want him to circumvent Congress. I want him to temporarily halt enforcement while he works with them to get new legislation drafted. I agree, we don’t need Bushian monkey business; I’m thinking more of the temporary stay that LAW mentions above. Is that the same as the signing statements, etc. of which Bush was so fond? To me, it isn’t. Thoughts?

  7. markzamen permalink
    July 13, 2009 8:02 pm

    A very good post; accurate, succinct, thoughtful, and well written. This issue is yet another reminder that a large segment of society still regards gay men and women as second-class citizens – or worse. That is the salient point of my recently released biographical novel, Broken Saint. It is based on my forty-year friendship with a gay man I met on our first day in the U.S. Army, and the story chronicles his internal and external struggles as he battles for acceptance (of himself and by others). More information on the book is available at http://www.eloquentbooks.com/BrokenSaint.html.

    Mark Zamen, author

  8. Luke Murphy permalink
    September 28, 2010 9:44 am

    I notice you didn’t mention US Code 10 Section 654 which articulates the very reason the don’t ask don’t tell policy is in place. Did you look it up and leave it out because it hurt your argument or did you not look for it too start with? I am a service member I have served for eight years in the Marine Corps. I am not a homophobe; I know people who are gay that I would consider friends. The fact of the matter is that when a person signs up for the military they know there are certain rights they must give up. Every arguement I have heard on this topic acts like the homsexuals are being picked on and forced to give up their rights, but no service member has the right to freedom of speech. We even have our haircutts, facial hair, and clothes regulated by the UCMJ to what is considered in good disciplan. Should we all revolt? No, we give up those rights to ensure that our fellow Americans never have to. I would beg you and your readers to consider, freedom isn’t free and it will always take the sacrifices of the few so that the many may prosper. That is what in your own words, “this great country was founded on”.

    • TammyJ permalink
      September 30, 2010 8:48 am

      Yes, you give up many rights when you join the military. And there is a legitimate reason for most of that. That does not make DADT right. It should be overturned because it is wrong.

  9. Jeannie Powell permalink
    December 18, 2010 11:50 pm

    I don’t agree with repealing don’t ask don’t tell. I have served in the military and know what it’s like. Just as many say the gays have rights and are discriminated against, what about the straight soldiers who also have a right to not be forced to sleep and shower with people of the same sex who desire them? I’m tired of hearing all this homophobic crap. I was chased down constantly by two lesbians while in the military. There is now nothing to deter this type of behavior. I will not encourage my son to go into the military as previously, and if push come to shove I will do everything in my power to protect him from a mandate to serve. He has rights as well.

Trackbacks

  1. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Post on LeftFace « Never Apart In Heart
  2. Don't Ask Don't Tell Post on LeftFace | My Uncharted Life

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