Wednesday, June 01, 2005

don't ask, don't tell

As a civilian, I’m a bit reluctant to criticize the military in war-time. Nevertheless, bad policy is bad policy. The mandatory discrimination of homosexuals in the US armed services is anachronistic at best. Especially in light of the fact that even Georgia finally repealed its archaic ‘sodomy laws’. To put a face on this foolishness, check out this article from the Army Times:
“The old armchair thought that gay people destroy unit camaraderie and cohesion is just wrong,” Stout said. “They said the same things when they tried to integrate African-Americans and women into the military.”

Before the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, enacted in 1993 under the Clinton administration, the Pentagon had explicitly barred gays from military service. At least 24 countries, including Great Britain, Germany, France, Australia, Canada and Israel, allow gays to serve openly.
Sgt. Robert Stout, 23, not only served in Iraq with distinction, but received a Purple Heart for the wounds he sustained. He has certainly proven his ability and worth in combat, so what’s the problem?
The issue of whether gays should be allowed to openly serve in the military has received increased attention in recent months as the Army has struggled to meet its recruiting goals. Twelve gays expelled from the military sued the government in December, citing a Supreme Court ruling that declared unconstitutional state laws against homosexual sex.

The Bush administration has asked a federal court to dismiss the lawsuit.
Bush is on a roll lately…he seems to be opposing progress at every turn. First stem cell research and now denying a soldier his day in court. All in an attempt to preserve the status quo of American culture, circa 1950.
A recent congressional study on the impact of “don’t ask, don’t tell” said that hundreds of highly skilled troops, including many translators, have left the armed forces because of the rule, at a cost of nearly $200 million, mostly for recruiting and training replacements for 9,500 troops discharged between 1994 and 2003.

Gary Gates, a statistician at the University of California at Los Angeles, estimates there are about 65,000 gays and lesbians currently serving in the military, accounting for about 2.8 percent of all personnel. He estimates that at least 25 gay soldiers have been killed in Iraq.
Maybe it’s me, but I just don’t understand why ‘sexual orientation’ matters, when these folks are willing and able to offer their service to this country. It really can’t be ‘inappropriate’ sexual contact, or they would not have allowed females to serve in Iraq and elsewhere. Besides, aren’t all soldiers and officers held to the same high standard of conduct? This looks like another irrational regulation that’s born of emotion rather than reason. Oh, by the way, Sgt. Stout was recently discharged from the Army.

via the one-trick pony: Andrew Sullivan