Where The Bigotry Lies In ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

By , June 7, 2010 2:59 pm

It’s a shame we’re still having a debate over gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.

This New York Times article delved into some of the issues involved in transitioning the military to allow homosexuals to openly serve. One issue is whether openly gay soldiers should be put in separate housing. Another is that families might request different housing, on religious grounds, if same-sex couples live close by. Others are concerned that service members who don’t adhere to anti-discrimination policies may not be promoted. An unnamed Army National Guard member who is a lesbian had concerns, too. She said, “Getting rid of ["Don't Ask, Don't Tell"] completely without modifying it is kind of worrisome. The number of incidents against gays in the military is going to increase.”

WASHINGTON - MARCH 3: (L to R) Former service members Anthony Woods, of Viginia, Stacy Vasquez, of Texas, and Todd Belok, of Connecticut, listen during a news conference on Capitol Hill March 3, 2010 in Washington, DC. Senator Lieberman has introduced legislation to repeal the US military's don't ask don't tell policy for gays and lesbians serving in the military. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

True. This soldier is rightfully concerned about the safety of herself and other troops. If the policy is going to be repealed soon, and that is far from certain, it doesn’t look like it will happen before a report on the repeal is due on December 1. All of this fear and worry, though, is over soldiers who may be homophobic. This hand-wringing is over the feelings of people who may be bigots and what they might do. But the bigotry I see is with the leaders, policymakers and pundits who want DADT to remain in place.

On the issue of gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, we’re not the norm in the West. Every other country in NATO, except Turkey, allows gays and lesbians to openly serve. When Britain and Canada allowed homosexuals to serve openly they only lost three soldiers each (yes, just 3). And when U.S. looked into how Canada changed their policy, a report showed that “negative consequences predicted in the areas of recruitment, employment, attrition, retention, and cohesion and morale have not occurred.”

Chances are, the same thing will happen with our military. There may be some bumps along the way, but our military effectiveness is not going to collapse on the day that DADT is repealed. My understanding of the military is that troops’ primary concern is to protect and look out for each other. I doubt that would change when in battle just because the next soldier over is a homosexual. Meanwhile, poll after poll shows more Americans think gays and lesbians should serve openly. Colin Powell, who used to be in favor of DADT but is now against it said, “Society is always reflected in the military. It’s where we get our soldiers from.”

If opponents of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” truly felt military effectiveness would be diminished or that it would be profoundly difficult to integrate openly gay and lesbian service members in the military, they shouldn’t support DADT. They should speak out against discrimination and homophobia in the armed forces. By not doing that, opponents of DADT reveal themselves to be the ones who are bigoted.

One Response to “Where The Bigotry Lies In ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’”

  1. Beth says:

    Silly… as your blog says, other western cultures have had gays and lesbians serving openly for years. It’s only a big deal here because we’re making it a big deal, and thus it will *become* a big deal.

    If I’m in combat with you, in a dangerous situation, and about to get in trouble, I don’t care if your sexual preference is to sleep with farm animals, you’d better have my back!

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