This story has been circulating in papers and the internet for the past few days now, and I couldn’t repress the urge to comment on it any longer.
The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was conceived back in 1993 as a sort of compromise. Until then, it was argued that having gays in the ranks of the military would cause a dismantling of unit morale and cohesion. Added to the idea that it is believed that most gays are pedophiles [another post entirely], it was believed that this would culminate in the destruction of the unit from the inside out. Some believe, including Northwestern professor Charles Moskos, that cohesion isn’t an issue. Rather it is “modesty rights for straights”, saying he has the right to not be looked at as an object of sexual desire [articles here and here].
When Clinton took office in ’92, he caused a controversy when he said he would lift the ban on gays in the military. As a compromise to this proposal, it was settled that instead of enacting witch hunts to find and discharge gay men and women in the military, the government would just not ask the question “Are you gay?” and would expect those in its service to not voice their sexuality. Many believed this to be Clinton’s aim; preferring to take a few small steps toward equality rather than remain on a completely biased and discriminatory turf.
Because of the DADT policy, men and women in the service of our country have been discharged left and right for no other reason than who is next to them in bed. In 2005, discharges under the DADT policy increased 11%, with 726 service members discharged in that year alone. Since the policy’s inception in ’93, over 10,000 service members have been discharged [article here].
Being discriminatory certainly isn’t cheap, either. The money spent on discharging gay service members [this includes recruiting and training replacements] has cost us, the taxpayers, almost $14 million every year since ’93. $191 million to date. Many gay activists say that the Government Accountability Office is , and to the GAO’s own admission as well, neglecting to include how much is spent on the actual investigations, legal challenges and so forth [article here and here].
So here we stand. At the most recent count, the war has cost us over $400 billion, Bush is calling for almost 30,000 more troops and we’ve lost 3,200 men and women. And here we have America’s highest ranking military officer releasing a statement that both insults his fellow countrymen and denounces the efforts of his fellow service members. The fact that General Pace’s comments are military supported [no attempt at admonition is a declaration of support, in my opinion] makes for an even worse situation.
Not that a retraction or apology at this point would make a difference. With the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff publicly announcing the immorality of an entire community with no feelings of repentance, it is more apparent than ever the position that gays have in our country. That, even despite risking our lives for our country, we’re deemed unfit for first class citizenship rights.
While Pace believes that the DADT policy passes no judgement upon the LGBT community, I believe that it is the very epitome of the intolerance embedded within our system. That, even though the military aches for more dedicated service members, it still has the idiotic audacity to turn away those based upon sexual orientation. Not even in a period of peace does a nation have the time and energy to spare on practicing acts of ignorance and intolerance, never mind in an era of war.
While I do not support this war, I do support our troops. And if someone wishes to serve our country to the best of their abilities, they should only be refused that wish on the basis of a creditable reason, rather than an inane one.