Over at Ace of Spades HQ, from time-to-time recently Ace has been pondering issues of gay equality, such as gay marriage and DADT (“don’t ask, don’t tell”). While he doesn’t see gay and lesbian people as truly human — with unalienable rights and all and the freedom from being forced by government to follow religious beliefs that are not their own — he usually wrestles with the issues in a reasonable way that is rare in Right Blogosphere.
To summarize DADT news this week, on Thursday the Washington Post published a story that its reporters had interviewed two sources who had read the Pentagon report on whether repealing DADT would impair the military’s ability to fulfill its mission that was due to be released on Dec. 1. Short version: no, it won’t. WaPo also published reactions from the usual suspects, including this one from Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United:
“These results confirm what those of us who actually know the modern military, especially the rank and file troops, have said all along. The men and women of America’s armed forces are professionals who are capable of handling this policy change. In light of these findings, as well as the Secretary of Defense’s recent call for Senate action on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ during the lame duck session, there is no longer any excuse for failing to bring the defense authorization bill back up during the first week of the post-election legislative session.”
For perspective, bear in mind that convicted rapists, felons, illegal aliens and Muslims, who are commanded to kill or subjugate all non-Muslims, all are allowed to serve in the U.S. military.
On Friday the Supreme Court rejected a request by the Log Cabin Republicans, the right-wing gay group that is challenging DADT in court, to halt enforcement of DADT while appeals of a district court decision in favor of the Log Cabin Republicans (and against DADT) proceed. As Ed Morrissey notes at Hot Air, this is not so bad because it will prevent the destruction of the careers of service members who “told” under the protection of the district court decision if it is reversed by the Supreme Court.
So after reading Ed’s post at Hot Air, Ace wrote a DADT post that concludes as follows:
And I don’t think critics of the policy are giving sufficient thought to what may happen in many of the people inclined to military service decide it no longer represents their values.
Critics may say “But that puts the government behind a policy of discrimination!” Possibly, yeah; there is a strong argument that that’s the case. And maybe the end of DADT will turn out to be a big nothingburger (as the desegregation of the military was, mostly, despite similar concerns being voiced at the time).
Still. The guys who make up the club should have most of the say about the rules of the club. I really doubt that many of the policy’s critics are willing to sign up to make up for drops in recruitment, should that come to pass.
Ace then published in a separate post selected comments by current and former servicemembers opposed to the repeal of DADT. I’m writing this post mostly because of the degree of disconnect between what gays seek by the repeal of DADT and the right to serve openly and what Ace’s commenters think gays are seeking.
But first let me tell Ace how the repeal of DADT really will turn out to be a big “nothingburger”: when gay and lesbian service members can serve openly, and get to know their colleagues as whole people just the way straight people do while following all the same rules of conduct, then everyone else will learn their fears were baseless. It’s not going to take very long.
In fact, I suspect the real reasons that anti-gay groups have worked so hard to demonize gays and create great horrors in straight people’s minds about repealing DADT is that serving in the military is noble and bolsters the claim of gays to equality. Also, it will greatly increase the number of straight people who get to know and respect someone who is openly gay or lesbian, which will make us that much harder to demonize in the future.
For Ace’s commenters, let me say that the reason that lesbians and gays want to serve openly in the military is a simple one: they just want to be honest about their lives in the same way that straight people are allowed to be and they are willing to obey the same rules of conduct. The right to be honest about your life means that you can connect to others and create rapport by talking about going on a date, or being able to introduce your friends to your life partner. If you don’t think that having to hide every word and detail of your life that could reveal your sexual orientation — that being forced to disguise, suppress, hide and lie about who you are — is not a heavy and damaging burden, then you try it for a month.
Ace also fretted that if gays can serve openly, then enlistments might fall because enlistees don’t mind being told to pound sand if they object to serving with rapists, felons, illegal immigrants and Muslims required to kill/subjugate ALL unbelievers, but the mere knowledge they could be required to serve in the presence of a gay person would utterly unhinge them and cause them to flee from the recruiter’s office.
Well, my observation is that gays and lesbians are an unusually altruistic lot and I believe that the percentage of gays and lesbians who enlist is going to be significantly higher than our supposed proportion of the U.S. population. Another factor is the number of gay and lesbian teens who face homelessness if their parents discover they are gay — repeal of DADT would give them the option to enlist: military service is one of the few jobs now open to 18-year-olds that offers them enough money to live on, great benefits and career training. In fact, come to think of it, since gays and lesbians still face a great deal of workplace discrimination in the civilian marketplace, when the military services stop discriminating they are going to become one of the most attractive employers in the marketplace for gays and lesbians young enough to serve.
As for whether gays and lesbians are patriotic enough to want to serve in the military — yes, yes, we are. One of the most poignant aspects I witnessed at last year’s march on Washington for gay equality was that almost every speaker spoke with great love of America mixed with hurt and bewilderment at “unalienable rights” and “liberty and justice for all” somehow not applying to us. Arabic translator Lt. Dan Choi, who spoke at the march, was recently discharged due to “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and explains here why he enlisted and why he told (I don’t remember if he mentions it in this interview, but one reason he told is he’s a preacher’s kid and was raised to be honest):
I also learned at the Oct. 2009 march for gay equality that Katharine Lee Bates, who wrote “America the Beautiful,” was a lesbian.