I’m really not happy with the way the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal is being handled. The policy, born in 1993, is pure discrimination, nothing less. It places on a certain segment of the population an unfair burden, that is, that LBGT service members cannot reveal or discuss in any way, shape or manner their sexuality. That’s bullshit. Think about it. How often do you say “my wife” this or “my boyfriend” that in casual conversation? No brainer. You just talk about them in the same banal way you talk about the weather. But if your partner is of the same gender, then all bets are off. Can’t mention them, except maybe as a “friend.” But if this “friend” keeps cropping up in conversations, potentially it could lead to one outing oneself accidentally as co-workers and superiors put two and two together. Outrageous.
Far more harmful, of course, is the pressure real life couples have to go through if one of them is in the service and the other is a civilian spouse. Straight civilian spouses have a panoply of support services at their beck and call, including each other. Gay civilian spouses could never take advantage of this network because it would put their military spouse at risk of being fired. Worse yet, if the military spouse is injured or killed in the line of duty, the spouse is not notified. The spouse has no visitation rights. The spouse has no pension rights. The spouse isn’t even accorded such standard military dignities as a visit from military personnel presenting a flag and sympathy. Nothing. Zilch. Nichts. That’s beyond outrageous. That’s plain cruelty. My partner and I have been together for over 16 years. Woe betied any hospital that would try to get between us if anything happened to the other.
The press to overturn DADT has been anemic at best. The policy was created in a state of weakness and so far it is being repealed in a similar state. The basic problem with the repeal effort is that it has been a series of capitulations to a population of homophobes who have no interest in repeal. The generals and commanders fighting repeal are projecting their own homophobia onto their charges, stating that they “aren’t ready” for the change. Some aren’t, though the much vaulted survey of military personnel showed that for many in the US armed services, DADT repeal is no big deal. But that doesn’t matter. In the end, these leaders of the armed services should lead. If they are commanded to discontinue this policy, then that’s what they should do. PERIOD. They need to train their troops not to be bigots and to do their work. As a manager in a non-military setting, I am charged to uphold the nondiscrimination policies of my company. It’s as simple as that. And if the military leaders can’t do that, then they need to resign and let someone else takeover who can. There is no middle ground in cases of discrimination. You end it quickly and decisively or it does not end at all. This nonsense about not causing waves during war time is just a smoke screen, again, that the homophobes use to continue that which they feel comfortable with.
And don’t make me laugh about soldiers worried about bending over in the showers, as if cases of sexual assault are going to rise if DADT is repealed. Please with that. The armed forces need to take care of its existing problem with sexual assaults against its servicewomen. The homophobes aren’t making such a big deal about that. They’ll pay the problem lip service, but showing leadership to end it is another matter. But they’ll gladly use the truncheon of sexual assault as a reason not to end DADT.
As I’m fond of saying, you can either pull the bandaid off slowly, feeling the tug of each hair as you do it, or you can yank it off in one quick jolt. You’ll remove some hairs that way, painfully, but the hair will grow back and the pain will diminish. The only ingredient missing is leadership. LEADERSHIP. No more studies. No more committee hearings. No more time wasting. Just end it. End it, Mr. President. I would think that the recent court case that decided against DADT would be a god-send. It’s like a get out of jail free card. The finicky Senate gets bypassed and the law gets struck down. Why do the appeals? Why must it end by a legislative process? I expect it is possible for the Supreme Court to uphold DADT in the end, but if we don’t appeal it that far, then it can’t. Stop the appeals. Let the shameful policy die an overdue death.
You can’t negotiate with bigots. You can try and maybe you can change a few minds, but in the end, you have to put your foot down and say “this is what we’re going to do.” That’s the only thing that needs to happen. Mr. President, you can do this at any time. Just do it.
Update – December 18, 2010
And in the end, the Senate does the right thing and banished this ridiculousness to the dust bin of history. I predict within five years, folks will look back and wonder what the hell all the fuss was about. So it goes with these sorts of things. Good Riddance to DADT. May we never see the likes of it ever again.