Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t stop it

A couple things up front regarding the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ (DADT for short) policy which softened the ban on gays in the military:

  1. I’ve never served in the military, being fortunate enough to spend my draft-eligible age during a time where the extent of military action was to kick a tinpot dictator out in Grenada and capture a pineapple-faced one in Panama, in part by bombarding him with hard rock music at all hours. Oh yeah, we bombed Libya too. With my asthma and bad eyes I’d likely be 4-F anyway.
  2. I truly don’t care what consenting adults do in their bedrooms.

Over the weekend I got an e-mail from Barack Obama, excited about the demise of DADT. In part, he wrote:

When that (repeal) bill reaches my desk, I will sign it, and this discriminatory law will be repealed.

Gay and lesbian service members — brave Americans who enable our freedoms — will no longer have to hide who they are.

The fight for civil rights, a struggle that continues, will no longer include this one.


As Commander in Chief, I fought to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” because it weakens our national security and military readiness. It violates the fundamental American principles of equality and fairness.

But this victory is also personal.

I will never know what it feels like to be discriminated against because of my sexual orientation.

But I know my story would not be possible without the sacrifice and struggle of those who came before me — many I will never meet, and can never thank.

I know this repeal is a crucial step for civil rights, and that it strengthens our military and national security. I know it is the right thing to do.

Supposedly, the impetus behind the repeal of DADT was a survey that strengthened the hand of those plotting for repeal. (Oddly enough, when the survey first came out gay and lesbian advocates were unhappy with it, but I suppose it’s served their purposes.)

But perhaps what bothers me most about President Obama and the various advocacy groups calling for DADT repeal is couching the issue as a civil rights one, much like the integration of the military after World War II. In that case, discrimination was based on skin color alone whereas sexual preference seems to be primarily behavior-based. And unike many other behaviors not deemed appropriate for a military environment such as being insubordinate or out of fighting shape, I’m not sure being attracted to the same sex can be addressed during basic training. (For that matter, neither can attraction to the opposite sex.)

And whether it’s desirable in all cases or not, the Millennial Generation seems to be much more tolerant of homosexuality than previous ones. Ask someone under 30 and its highly likely they know someone who is gay or lesbian. It’s almost the ‘in’ thing these days to at least present an image of being ambiguous about sexuality.

Yet the precautionary tale about those who are gay or lesbian (I would think this more likely among gay males since they actually do the preponderence of combat roles) is that, if you thought bullying against gay men was bad in schools, try surviving it in an environment where people carry automatic weapons. Why do I get the feeling that a larger-than-normal share of gay soldiers will be the victim of ‘friendly fire’ incidents? You can’t prove intent in the heat of battle.

It seems to me that the best course of action is the one they are abandoning. Yes, we have professional soldiers and the bad apples who would actually consider wiping out their homosexual brethren in a fragging incident is but a tiny percentage. But why take the chance by allowing openly gay and lesbian soldiers to serve in the name of ‘civil rights’?

We have only made this a controversy as a society by bringing what should be kept behind closed doors and between consenting adults out in the open, claiming the choice to sleep with someone of the same gender is a ‘right.’

But in order to promote discipline, soldiers in the field need to remain focused on the twin goals of victory and survival. While the repeal of DADT may not be a distraction to that effort, common sense seems to dictate that we shouldn’t mess with success.

Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.

One thought on “Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t stop it”

  1. I’m surprised that we’re not hearing from more gay soldiers on this issue. I think the most relevant question is, “how do they feel about it?” We’re sort of just acting here and telling them that they should be happy about it, but are they?

    It makes me think of “The Office” when Michael Scott “outs” Oscar, a gay employee who had been working there for quite some time. He had purposefully kept his orientation a secret to avoid the hassles it would cause him at work. And he worked in an office! I can’t imagine what kind of hassling gay soldiers would be in for in the military.

    It’s true that society is changing to become more accepting and tolerant of homosexuality, but we’re certainly not there yet. And forgive me for stereotyping here, but the average soldier isn’t exactly “Mr. Understanding” when it comes to stuff like this…

    The repeal makes me fearful for the safety of soldiers who may be outed, although hopefully it will simply mean that those who want to come out will do so and those who don’t want to can stay the way they are. I guess that’s a good thing, right?

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