Saturday, September 24, 2011

Now You Can Ask & Tell

shhhh - don't tell
This week marked the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT), the inane and unfair compromise that President Clinton signed into law after an indignant Republican Majority House of Representatives, lead by demagogue and philanderer Newt Gingrich refused to authorize a military spending bill (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994) that Democrats had included language within it allowing people of all sexual orientations to serve in the US armed forces, and Republicans stripped out.  So Clinton signed Defense Directive 1304.26, which directed that military applicants were not to be asked about their sexual orientation.

According to elected representatives like Pray-the-gay-away Michelle Bachmann, Get-off-my-lawns-McCain, I'm-not-a-frothy-substance-Santorum, and legions of others - most of whom never served in the military, nearly all of whom were never enlisted men or women, but who had many homophobic friends and donors who were in the military - ending DADT was going to bring about a catastrophic collapse of US Armed Forces readiness.  There would be shower rapes (even though it's the military, and not a fraternity house), and sexual harassment. 
Only Male Sparrows have black feathered chests

All the fixed-position fox holes we dig in Afghanistan and Iraq would be filled with hesitant soldiers wondering if their buddy 'had their back' or was looking at their bum.  [Note to readers who have not taken ROTC, fixed position fox holes went out with the Vietnam war for the most part, once the advent of helicopter troop mobility, unmanned drones, and laser guided munitions came to be a reality on the modern battlefield. There are still fixed, defensible positions, but rarely ever is it a fox hole.]

Strange and so very unexpected, none of this has come to pass this week.  Soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who have come out publicly have been loved by their parents, reaffirmed of friendships with colleagues, and been told "yeah, we sort of knew" by many.  The terrible forebodings and right wing predictions have not come to fruition.

What HAS come to an end, are the punitive, petty, and pathetic attacks and reports of puny, feckless, hateful, nasty-little-turds who were reporting their fellow military personnel to the chain of command for "being gay".  Whatever their reasons - jealous that the gay soldier was a better person, angry that the gay soldier didn't think the reporting soldier was attractive, envious of the better position the gay serviceman had, lustfully repressing their own homosexuality and upset that someone they worked with was not repressing theirs as well - those mean spirited & misguided attacks are now ended.  Military courts no longer have to discharge 10% of their servicemen and women (and a much higher percentage of Arabic translators - but who needs Arabic translation now a days anyways?) for being who they are.

Dr Desert Flower and I know and have worked with many nice gay people (engineers, scientists, librarians, mathematicians, real estate agents, managers, moms, dads, students), and some of them were in the military, or were significant others of those who were actively serving in the military.  Over the years since 1994, we've heard of all sorts of stories of convoluted arrangements, where a lesbians pretended to be dating and living with gay men so that the ranking officers back at the base would be 'thrown off the trail' of each service persons' sexual orientation.  We'd heard of emails and phone calls to friends and family from FOBs (forward operating bases) being monitored for sexual content and how gay servicemen would have to speak in code to their significant others.  We'd heard of how excellent soldiers and airmen were dishonorably discharged once some pathetic fellow soldier reported someone's 'gayness'. All of these stories made me feel bad that straight people (or some gay soldiers who kept repressing it, to try and will or pray the gay away) could treat gay and lesbian service personnel with such disdain, such hatred, such disrespect.

"Support the troops" you always hear conservative candidates and their supporters say.  But not if they're gay, or anchor babies, or one of them is one of those Muslims types, or anything except a WASP.  Well, it's nice to know that as a civil society, we're one step closer towards acceptance, and another step further away from Dumphuckastan.

If we had President McCain or (ughhh!) President Palin (I SHUDDER to think that), DADT would certainly still be in place, or it would be replaced with some more punitive. 

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