I don’t normally talk politics on my blog….but there are a few topics going on in the news that I’m really not comfortable remaining silent on, because I think there is too much screaming, and not enough talking to be worth listening. This is my rational, reasonable assessment over the failure of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) and why it should be repealed in favor of gay, lesbian and bisexual service members being allowed to serve openly.
The interests of the military are different than that of the civilian world. The institutions of the Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force (the Marines are part of the Department of the Navy) operate on a different standard of individuality (mainly that you aren’t one). To focus on DADT as a civil rights issue misses the mark on how military culture operates. Never mind that the government should have absolutely no interest over what any consenting adults choose to do together in the privacy of their off duty time and that the refusal to allow them to do so openly is a mockery of the Oath of Enlistment… The repeal of DADT will never fly (even with the current court injunction) unless it is adopted based on its benefit to the military. As such, DADT needs to be repealed because it encourages a degradation of the military command structure, because it is prejudicial to good order and discipline, and because it endangers the health and well-being of both heterosexual and homosexual men and women in the military. Overall, DADT inhibits both morale and mission readiness for all branches of the military.
Within the military, nothing is so sacrosanct as the idea of Chain of Command. I am certain that there are members of the chains of command of the various military branches that dislike the idea of “gays in the military”, DADT or not. I am equally certain that there are far more in command that are concerned about keeping the peace and maintaining the status quo, knowing that there are service members that are vehemently anti-homosexuality in their ranks. The problem with the former is that bigotry is not an acceptable trait for an individual in a leadership position–we certainly wouldn’t stand for it if *gay* was replaced by *black* or *Catholic*…and the problem with the latter is that it gives up authority to the appeasement of the masses (which isn’t the best idea in the military). Both attitudes erode the level of respect necessary for the Chain of Command to be effective. Additionally, the failure to include homosexual service members under Equal Opportunity (EO) protection allows for them to be discriminated against without impunity by members of their immediate Chain of Command. It also allows, as my husband observed at one of his commands, for the command to target an individual that they suspect to be gay, forcing them to either lie to stay in, or gives the command ammunition to have them dismissed from he military…and for those individuals that *aren’t* gay, it ruins their reputation and can create an environment of hostility and discrimination for them as well–for the rest of their military careers.
DADT not only permits, but in a “boots on the ground” environment, it encourages an openly hostile environment towards homosexuality and homosexuals. This attitude breeds hatred, bigotry, fear and resentment from within–hardly an effective way to maintain either the good order and discipline or the morale of the fighting forces. From gay jokes and gay bashing to harassment and even abuse, men and women that are known to be or suspected to be homosexual, are consistently disrespected. In an military that (usually) punishes racism and sexual harassment as violations of Equal Opportunity policy, homosexuality has become the tacitly accepted target for military members to vent their stress, frustration and hostility upon (never mind the overall failure of the military complex to teach healthy coping skills in favor of staying on topic). And even for those that do not succumb to this behavior, there is no ignoring it, and it makes them equally as powerless as the group being singled out. I am ashamed to say that when I saw things that tweaked my conscience on the matter, I didn’t do anything about it…because there unfortunately wasn’t anything I *could* do about it.
Perhaps worst of all (because that wasn’t all bad enough), DADT endangers the health and safety of military members. Sexual assault in the military is not just a heterosexual event. I have heard accounts of and encountered more than one victim of same-gender assault. Nearly all of these individual declined reporting the event because they were either afraid of the discrimination and harassment being “branded” a homosexual within their chain of command, or they were afraid and ashamed that the fact that they were homosexual had been used as an excuse to assault them, and they were afraid of being dismissed from the military. Because victims of assault in these cases are afraid to come forward, we allow the perpetrators of criminal acts to continue to serve in our nation’s military without punishment or even prosecution. Even worse, these victims cannot seek medical or psychiatric care without fear of their sexual orientation being exposed. The trauma from these events lasts a lifetime.
The military cannot continue to abide by DADT…and not just because of the injunction against it. DADT encourages dishonesty and shame on part of homosexual service members, it causes the unfair dismissal of intelligent and qualified officers and enlisted persons, and it promotes bigotry as a military value. All of this breeds resentment against both the Chain of Command and the perpetrators of these actions by both parties that are being victimized as well as those reasonable individuals that observe these events. It causes or contributes to the decision of eminently qualifies individuals to leave military service. If the military asserts that it protects and defends the Constitution of the United States of America, and that it is a reflection of the citizenry it serves, then the refusal to allow homosexual individuals to serve openly in their ranks is an unforgivable breach of integrity and purpose. It is only through the appeal of DADT, the acknowledgement of gay, lesbian and bisexual service members as equal contributors worthy of equal opportunity, and provisions for the same protections that other minorities have, that the military can hope to restore morale and mission readiness and regain the honor it has lost.