They Already Serve
posted at 1:22 pm on May 14, 2010 by J.E. Dyer
You think you know what’s coming.
Of course, this post is about gays in the military. But its point is that even with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) in place, gays already serve.
That’s right. They are not prevented from serving by DADT. They are not prevented from being gay by DADT.
They are prevented from telling by DADT. And the military is prohibited from asking.
What will change if DADT is repealed is the “telling” part. What proponents of repeal want you to believe is that this will mean no more than that quietly gay servicemembers will be able to mention their partners at work and maybe bring them to command events – and who could be scared of that?
But that’s not what telling will mean. It will mean what it has always meant in US society: complaint and litigation.
Most gay servicemembers probably would not do anything very different from what they do now. Many of us have been proud to serve with them, and haven’t cared what their sexual orientation was.
But it doesn’t take more than a few to cause disruptions, narrow the scope of command prerogative and discretion for the worse, and menace the civil rights of others in uniform. All it takes is one “case.” And there will be more than that.
Ask yourself this. Should military families be forced to live in housing, shop at commissaries, and use recreation facilities where gay men, when they’re out of uniform, hold hands and kiss in public, demand to hold gay events, or demand gay-themed products or advertising? Don’t you have the option to not do that, in your civilian life? Do you understand that for many military families, exercising that option is either literally impossible – depending on where they are stationed – or at least financially so?
Ask yourself this. Should soldiers in a unit be required to show support for Gay Pride Month, at the risk of being accused of creating a hostile work environment if they don’t? Because they will be asked to do just that. Other federal agencies already celebrate Gay Pride Month. DOD will begin doing so immediately on repeal of DADT.
Ask yourself this. Should unit leaders – COs, XOs, command senior NCOs – be required, as a matter of professional promotability and fitness for leadership, to affirm a positive view of homosexuality? Should they be denied promotion and higher leadership positions if they cannot, in good conscience, agree to a formulaic endorsement? If you believe these should be professional criteria, why? What is your rationale for this as a military requirement?
Because this will happen. It will happen even if the initial implementation of a DADT repeal specifically states that it won’t. Attrition through lawsuit and Congressional witch-hunt will take care of that. Military policy will be aligned to avert trouble from political activists – as we have seen already.
Remember, the question is not whether gays can do the same job as straights. They are already doing it. That question has been the principal one relating to women in the service, and it’s why women are still excluded from some military jobs.
The question is not whether gays have full equality as humans. Of course they do. The question is not even whether straights can “stand” to serve alongside them, although since the divisive issue is sexual orientation and expression of it, there is more justification for concern about that than there was when the issue was the segregation of blacks into separate military units and the limitation of their eligibility for occupational specialties. We as a nation rightly decided that the military would not cater to militarily meaningless prejudices about skin color and race. Expression of sexuality – not “orientation,” per se, but expression of it, which is what is inherently at issue here: that is a different matter.
But ultimately, the question, in the case of gays, is not whether people should be admitted to the military, it’s whether the military’s culture should change. And as distasteful as it is for many of us vets to think of soldiers or sailors going out to march in gay pride parades, displays of that kind aren’t even the worst change in culture portended by repeal of DADT. Worse than that – worse than families having to deal with gay PDA at base facilities, worse even than the flood of lawsuits to get DOD to recognize gay unions as “marriage,” and no doubt to perform such weddings in base facilities – will be the introduction of a gay-affirmation litmus test for those aspiring to advance as officers or senior NCOs.
Should the US military be in the business of affirming specific ideas about people’s sexuality? It will be, if DADT is repealed. That’s what this is about. It isn’t about military readiness; it’s about getting the military to affirm the expression of sexual orientation.
There is no such thing as quiescent tolerance in the military. If something is acknowledged at all, the military has a policy on it, and positive adherence to policy is required. Gay activists will ensure that the military’s policies entail positive affirmations – and of many kinds of behavior that you, in your civilian life, can choose to avoid or ignore. The people in the military will no longer have that option.
Americans, this is your decision. It isn’t something for just the military to decide. I say that even though I know what the military would decide if its uniformed members settled the question by the one man, one vote method. What I ask is that you take the trouble to understand what you are deciding, and preparing to impose on your armed forces.
This isn’t about being vaguely tolerant of gays, at the comfortable distance most people choose to maintain most of the time. It isn’t about the great majority of gays who live unostentatiously and won’t take offense if their department head doesn’t set aside applause time for their gayness every morning at 0730 during Gay Pride Month.
This is about setting the military up for gay activists to recruit plaintiffs from, and changing military culture to be hostile to independent thought and personal reservations about homosexuality. Today, those in authority who believe homosexuality is wrong do keep it to themselves. It never has to come up as a matter of personal belief or preference. The repeal of DADT is what will ensure that it will.