Sunday, December 19, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell

So it looks like the US is set to overturn the highly controversial Don't Ask Don't Tell Policy that was made law in 1993. I distinctly remember being a junior in high school and not understanding why the policy was necessary. Did people think that gay people hadn't served in the military before? Why why this policy suddenly needed? Everyone in the military has served with gay people, whether they were out or not, did they think that there would be less gay people because of the policy?

The only thing the policy did was reinforce that gay people were less than straight people in this country. That it was OK to be gay if you hid it. That when a bigot killed a person they suspected of being gay it was that person's fault for acting gay. If you have a problem with gay people then you are the one who should be punished and kicked out of the military. By kicking gay people out because ignorant people were uncomfortable with their presence you are telling gay people that they will be held accountable for the stupidity of others. That we can't expect people to be tolerant of people that are different from them.

The arguments from the people who didn't want the policy repealed are very similar to the arguments against letting blacks and women having equal rights. There are still people who kill people because of race and sex but we don't tell the victims it's their fault for being being black or female. We shouldn't prevent people from living free lives because it might make some people uncomfortable. There are people who stare at my husband and I when we hold hands. People who are blatantly rude simply because we are an interracial couple. It bothers me that these people exist but it doesn't make me let go of my husbands hand.

About an hour north of Syracuse, is Fort Drum Army base. This morning they interviewed three different people who lived at the base to get their opinion of the policy. They picked three people who represented the most ignorant arguments that I have heard against overturning the policy. New York is a very liberal state, particularly upstate New York where I live. It was distressing that the three people that they chose don't properly represent this state.

The first person was an older veteran. He had a long beard, a leather vest and a bandanna (very biker look). He said that when he was in the military there were homosexuals and those people got sent to the hospital; that's just how things went sometimes. I'm happy that this person is too old to serve in the military. But you know that person, and people like him, raise ignorant kids who have the same views or disown their kids when they come out to them. It wouldn't be a surprise if this person wore a sheet on the weekend and burned crosses in front of people's houses.

The second person was in his early 20's and he said that he didn't believe in "it" because that's how he was raised. OK, so you are against homosexuality as a lifestyle. What does that have to do with some one's ability to serve in the military? That person isn't going to stop being gay just because they aren't in the military. Gay people are still going to exist. You cannot force the entire country to live life based on your personal religious or moral bigotry.

The third person was also in his early 20's and he said that he was okay with it as long as "they" didn't hit on him. That's right because every gay person hits on every straight person. Because gay people are obsessed with having sex and cannot control themselves when they are around people of the same sex. Because when you're hunkered down in a foxhole with someone trying to avoid enemy fire their only focus is on getting into your pants. Don't flatter yourself.

When I was in college there was a big deal made of a woman trying to join the Citadel. The administrators at the southern, military school said that she would be a distraction to the other cadets. That they could not guarantee her safety and that their facilities were not set up to accommodate women. In the end she won her lawsuit and opened up the Citadel to women. She didn't graduate because the harassment was too much for her to handle. But many other women have gone on to attend and graduate from the Citadel.

A woman attending the Citadel is not longer such a novelty. Future generations won't be able to imagine not serving next to female class mates. I hope that is how we look back on gays in the military. That we think of the 17 years when we kicked 13,500+ people out of the military simply for being suspected of being gay as a dark time in this country's history. That it is grouped together with other major civil rights milestones.

No comments:

Post a Comment