I am absolutely dismayed that in 2010 we are still arguing about whether or not homosexuals deserve to have the rights of American citizens. And that's really what it comes down to. The dreaded 'Homosexual Agenda' to which the Conservatives like to refer is simply that; to be treated like everyone else. They are not asking to be given special rights or free passes to the Super Bowl. Just to be accorded the rights of every other American. Pretty radical, eh?
Earlier this week a Congressional committee met to discuss the idea of ending the Clinton era 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' (DADT) policy about homosexuals in the military. The policy states that the military won't go looking for homosexuals or ask members if they are gay, but if they find out that a member is, in fact gay, they will discharge them. This was the best the Clinton Administration could do in the early 90's climate with the military leadership solidly against allowing openly gay members to serve. But things are a bit different now. Not only do we have the President behind ending the DADT policy, but also the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have come on board to end the policy.
But, as you would expect, politics quickly reared its hypocritical head. One of the more prominent Senators at the meeting was John McCain (R). At least twice previously McCain commented that he would defer to the views of the military leadership on ending DADT. So you would naturally assume that when the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the highest ranking military officer in uniform, and his boss the Secretary of Defense testify that the time has come to end the policy . . . well it must have been a done deal, right? Though you can't actually hear the squealing of McCain's tires as he makes his political U-turn, his words make things clear enough.
"Look, the policy is working. I talk to military all the time. I have a lot of contact with them. The policy is working and the president made a commitment in his campaign that he would reverse it and the president then made the announcement that wants it reversed. And it is a law. It has to be changed. So Admiral Mullen said, speaking for himself only, he thought it ought to be reversed and of course Secretary Gates said that. I do not. I do not know what the other military leadership wants. I know that I have a letter signed by over a thousand retired admirals and generals that said they don’t want it reversed. And so, I will be glad to listen to the views of military leaders. I always have. But I’m not changing my position in support of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell unless there is the significant support for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And I would remind you that we’re in two wars. You know that and our listeners know that. And do we need, don’t we need a serious assessment of the effect on morale or battle and combat effectiveness before we go forward with a reversal in a campaigning, carrying out an Obama campaign."
So McCain thinks the policy is working, eh? How exactly is it "working"? We've kicked out thousands of military members, many with vital skills such as translators and interrogators. Thousands more cannot even tell their comrades who they went out with last weekend. If they have any relationship at all it must be illicit, as if they harbored some horrible secret rather than the simple fact that they fell in love with someone. How does this show the "policy is working?" These are our fellow Americans. They are just like you and me. The only thing that distinguishes them from the rest of us is who they love. These men and women volunteered to join the military and put their lives on the line every day for a nation that then demands they hide an important part of themselves away. To hide it so WE will feel comfortable. So WE won't be inconvenienced. Imagine yourself among a group of single coworkers, all talking about their recent dates. Then imagine you can't tell anyone about yours. If you do, you will be fired. Fired, even though you are a model employee. The only people for whom this policy is "working" are those who are made uncomfortable by proximity to a known homosexual. And to McCain and others who fall into this category I say, "Grow up"!
Now there are those who will make the case that a straight soldier, we'll call him George, doesn't need the distraction of knowing the guy next to him in the foxhole, we'll call him John, is gay. This is talking cross-eyed-badger-spit. If the two of them are in a foxhole they probably have more pressing issues than who's gay and who isn't. This line of reasoning is also highly insulting to both of our hypothetical soldiers. First you are implying that, just because John is gay that he's naturally a sexual predator and will jump George as soon as his back is turned. Homosexuals are no more predatory than anyone else. Just look at the thousands of sexual assaults carried out by straight soldiers every year. Predators are predators and the person's sexual orientation is hardly a factor. Secondly, you insult George by saying that he's such a bad soldier that he's more worried about his buddy's sexual habits than doing his job. Third, the increasing ratio of women in all branches of the military invalidates sexual tension as a uniquely homosexual issue.
Let me come clean on myself. I am NOT gay. I served over 8 years in the US Air Force as a 'Boom Operator' on KC-135 tankers performing inflight refueling. I was assigned to two squadrons during my tenure and deployed for the first Gulf War and numerous operations around the world during the first half of the 1990's. At no time did I worry that someone on my aircrew was gay. When bunking down in the compound outside King Khalid International airport during the first Gulf War, the thought that there might be gay service members among the thousand or so other soldiers and airmen stationed there never crossed the transom of my mind. Why? Because it wasn't important.
Here's one more thing to think about if you're still not convinced. There have been homosexuals in America's military since before there was a US of A and they have served honorably alongside their straight comrades in every battle America has ever fought. They undoubtedly crossed the Delaware with Washington to attack Trenton. They died in the snow of Valley Forge and on the fields of Yorktown. They fought and died on both sides at Bull Run, Shiloh, Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Atlanta and Cold Harbor. They followed Teddy up San Juan Hill with his 'Rough Riders'. They fought through the slaughter of Belleau Wood on the Western Front. They were entombed forever when the Arizona rolled over. They were shot down over the Solomons. They died on the beaches of Normandy and in the air over the oil fields of Ploesti. They shivered through the Korean winter with their comrades at the Chosin Reservoir and sweated with them through the siege of Ka San. I for one think these men and women have more than earned the right to be treated like any other American citizen!