Thursday, January 04, 2007

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

It is policies like Don’t Ask Don’t Tell that just blow my mind and make me seethe. There is simply no explanation that makes sense for why this policy is still in place other than extreme homophobia and ignorance. And don’t even get me started on the enormous cost to taxpayers as a result of keeping this policy in place. And given the fact the President is almost certainly going to decide in favor of an escalation of troops in Iraq (the McCain Doctrine) I’m truly at a loss for words when I hear some people continue to defend keeping this asinine policy in place. Where on earth are these added boots on the ground going to come from? Our military is in desperate shape, with so many of our brave men and women on second, third, and fourth tours of duty, making justification of a policy that excludes able-bodied and willing volunteers from serving even more crazy and indefensible. Recent surveys have shown there has been some major positive shifts in attitude among military personnel and the general public so it should come as no surprise that some very influential people (retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and now former Defense Secretary William Cohen) are finally stepping forward to call for its repeal. So why am I not feeling great happiness and gratification that yet another blatant form of government-sanctioned homophobia could soon be abolished? In fact, why am I feeling extremely disgusted and angry?

The whole thing just seems so transparent to me. This is not an act of courage on the part of these men and others who’ve suddenly had a change of heart about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. It is simply the act of logical people who can count and know the math just does not add up. Bush is going to call for more people on the ground in Iraq and we don’t have them. It is basic Supply and Demand economics. If this policy is repealed it will NOT be because it’s the right thing to do, it will be because they need more warm bodies over in Iraq and our little homo children will fit the bill nicely. And that makes me seethe.

My gay son is a perfect candidate for the military. He is healthy, physically fit, and intelligent. In fact, while still in high school he was the target of an overzealous (to the point of stalking) military recruiter. My son was truly interested, especially since his father is a former marine. This was all happening at about the same time my husband and I were just finding out about his sexual orientation. But even in the fog of our disorientation from his revelation, we had enough clarity of mind to ask him why he would consider volunteering for an organization that so blatantly discriminates against gays and lesbians. And while we consider service to this great country a noble endeavor, why would he want to possibly give his life in an unjust war started by a President who wants to enshrine his second-class citizenship into the Constitution strictly for political purposes?

So while many people are falling all over themselves with gratitude and admiration for those who are belatedly coming out in favor of repeal of DADT, I respectfully reserve my gratitude and admiration for those gays and lesbians who have chosen to serve in the military in spite of DADT. To them I say thank you. And to them I offer an immediate heartfelt apology for this stupid policy since it will be years before this country has the spine to admit how wrong it was to have ever had this policy. And those men who are coming forward now to call for repeal are never going to be heroes in my eyes. It takes no courage to state the obvious. Nope, they’re not heroes, but I’ll tell you who is: the thousands of brave gays and lesbians who are serving this country in spite of horrible policies like Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Now those people are real heroes! Those people are my heroes.



Sister Mary Hasta said...

I had a cousin come out to me at Christmas. About two hours later, she was in the living room complaining that her parents wouldn't let her join the military. The first words out of my mouth were, "Are you CRAZY?" Then some of the rest of us tag-teamed her with what a woman in the armed forces has to go through. THEN I pulled her aside and told her about what a lesbian in the armed forces goes through.

Anonymous said...

Seething Mom - I stumbled over your blog tonight and I've spent a few hours tonight reading and really appreciating your insights. You are an amazing mom and woman and your son is lucky to have to have you in his life. As a gay man who is also an active duty military officer, I appreciate your support for those of us serving under DADT (and there are ALOT of us...). We need people like you to speak with your representatives about DADT to tell them this is an issue that is important to you. Until we can get more of our straight allies to join the gay community, DADT is what we are stuck with. I love being in the military (despite the current Iraq mess...) and having to be in the closet makes me unable to give all that I truly could to my career and my country. Thanks again for your blog - you've got a new fan!