Thursday, May 22, 2008

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" May Soon No Longer Exist

A federal court ruled that the military can no longer discharge people because they are gay. This came after an Air Force flight nurse was dismissed from her duties because they found out about her sexuality. [She was given an honorable discharge two years shy of qualifying for retirement, but what's interesting is that the information wasn't disclosed by her. She was relieved of duty (in a time of nurse shortages) because of rumor that she was involved in a relationship with another woman, which makes me think that this woman's case may hold the key to a wrinkle in this policy: is it right to dismiss someone because their sexuality was outed by a source other than the person in question? But that's a question for another day.] In the court's ruling, the judges have essentially said that the military would have to prove on an individual basis that the nature of someone's disclosed sexuality negatively impacts morale. The hope is that the policy will be dropped because it will be take too much effort to investigate each case. I hope it is struck down because we need everyone, including the people in the military, to stop buying into the stereotypes of homosexuality and allow any and all (who are able) to serve their country. It took the military a long time to get over other restrictions (segregated troops, women in military) and while they have a long way to go on those fronts, the restrictions on being gay in the military have to go.

Keep in mind that the same people who fear that morale will be affected by the knowledge of someone's sexuality are the same types of people who used to think that women would be a distraction. And let's not forget Newt Gingrich's astute observation that women couldn't fight in the trenches because of female issues (or something like that; I don't have the time to find the quote). These barriers to homosexuals had cost the military $200 million by 2005, but the policy still exists.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell was a compromise that was devised to allow homosexuals to be in the military as long as they never disclosed their sexuality. It is a policy I never really understood at the time. I didn't realize that it was an automatic dismissal (and in 1993, I was 15 so I can be given a little leeway for ignorance). However, times have changed; people are starting to relax on their views of homosexuality, and there are states trying to pass laws that protect homosexuals from hate crimes as well as that monumental decision made by the California Supreme Court on gay marriage. With these things going on in the country, it is time that this policy go by the wayside. We are encouraging people in the military to still be afraid of gays because the government doesn't want to risk alienating other soldiers due to irrational fears. It is time to address those fears and start making changes. I don't expect this to happen overnight, but there has to be some progress made or this will go on (and that's not a good thing). I don't know if the policy is really going to be struck down, but I really hope that changes will be made that will allow anyone to be in the military and not fear losing their position because their sexuality was made known to others.

1 comment:

David Dust said...

The policy is SO ridiculous. If you go to any military city (San Diego, CA; Newport News, VA, etc.), there is always a large military gay community. These people work just as hard as everybody else, but they have the added burden of keeping their private lives secret to their coworkers and comrades-in-arms.

I really hope DADT is struck down. Maybe this is the first step...