Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
In 1951 the US military declared homosexuality an unacceptable risk and dishonorably discharged about 2,000 men and women. With that said, gay and lesbian soldiers have come a long way in gaining some acceptance and openness in the military. But is it enough?
The gay marriage debate has caused me to reflect on so many other issues currently affecting the community. Although President Obama has not followed in Clinton’s footsteps by showing any interest in reevaluating “don’t ask, don’t tell” it wasn’t any less of a hot topic for social conservatives during the 2008 presidential primary. The focus on the economy has been a driving force and primary topic of focus as of late, but with the gay marriage debate heating up daily and changing public opinion, this particular debate looms in the distance. As the fight for gay marriage picks up steam, gays and lesbians are constantly on alert about their sexuality and behavior while serving domestically and overseas. I consider Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell a legislative band aid to a problem that must be addressed in the near future due to pressure from the political right-wing, and some supposed liberals as well. For now, it’s taken a backseat to gay marriage.
I suspect that with changing attitudes about gays and lesbians being allowed to serve starting back in the early 2000s, the biggest deterrent to openly serving is the fact that it opens the doors for other civil rights and liberties to be requested and granted, and quite possibly all of them. It’s also a point of contention that the government is allowed to openly discriminate, while also affording certain protections to those facing that discrimination. And as much as some staunch civil rights proponents wish to contend that the fight for gay rights is nothing like the black plight, these battles share similar arguments for and against. When the military began integrating blacks into the core, some of the same arguments were voiced and subsequently put to rest or shown as being based on nothing factual and mostly out of fear of inclusion.
Opponents of openly serving: Straight men who do not like to be objectified and more importantly objectified sexually.
Well, who does? And what makes them think that every gay male would want them sexually anyway.
Opponents: Sexual harassment complaints would rise.
There are already many rules and regulations in place to govern how soldiers must behave and the code of professionalism is non-discriminatory. Does it mean that all the sexual harassment complains currently lodged against mostly heterosexual men are only happening because they are allowed to be openly straight? Improper sexual advances are not acceptable in any setting as the rules apply to everyone.
Opponents: Allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly will ruin the good order of the military.
It was one of the same arguments used against Blacks integrating, along with the criticisms that they couldn’t see at night or swim. And it’s the same argument against women being deployed to forward operations units overseas. In each of those occurrences the military did not collapse, fall apart or descend into utter chaos once these discriminatory practices were overturned. When a soldier pays with his life in his duty of serving his country and protecting our freedom, his sexual orientation doesn’t and shouldn’t matter to any extent. His body of work is based on how he lived life above all else, not his sexual preference. I believe that fighting for ones country against many odds is an act of courage. I have respect for what you’ve done regardless of your reasons. I firmly believe that gays and lesbians should be able to openly serve in the US military. What are your thoughts?