Friday, March 05, 2010

Don't ask, Don't tell, Don't Care.

My thoughts about changing DADT.

I think at this point it is a forgone conclusion that the Congress will either change the law barring homosexuals from serving openly, or the Military, upon direction from the commander in chief, will ignore the law as written.  We've heard from a variety of senior leaders in politics and the military who support revision of the policy and law, to make service open to all who desire (and meet the mental and physical requirements) to serve.  I've been opposed to changing the policy as it stands (and indeed, been a proponent of reverting back to the bad old days of Ask, Investigate and Evict.)
Not Ghey
Now, in my advanced years, I've come to some other conclusions. 

Today the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a for-attribution speech, answered a question about DADT and people who oppose a change to the policy by saying (and I'm paraphrasing here) basically, If you don't like the policy change, we're are a volunteer Army.  What he implied was that if things change and we don't like it, we can get out.  Aside from making the same argument, whereas if homosexuals don't like the current policy, they too, can get out; I don't think it really matters what people do in the bedroom, provided they serve with dignity and honor.

Not Ghey
Changing the military is like turning an aircraft carrier.  It can't be done quickly, but it can be done.  Sure, there are lots of questions about the administration, changes to the UCMJ, changes to policies, benefits, etc.  And in time, I am sure those questions will be addressed.  The question I have is do we address those problems first, then change, or change, and then figure out where the problems are? 

As far as voting with our feet, how many in the military will that option be extended to?  Obviously, at the end of an enlistment or Additional Duty Service Obligation, a person can opt not to renew their contract, and I doubt that the military will allow a mass exodus of people who can't come to grips with the change.  Another of the things that irritates me about this is that no one has bothered to ask me what I think.  I am "encouraged" to fill out a survey every time I go to the doctor, so the Army Surgeon General can determine if the Army is providing world-class healthcare.  I am polled about benefits, pay, housing, education, and even at the conclusion of most guest speakers--but no one has asked me, or any of my peers, whether we think changing the policy is good or bad.  No one has asked us if we would leave or continue to serve.
Nobody asked them, either.
I really don't  care what color, religion, (except for the Amish and Buddhists) race, creed, or gender a person is, has, or claims.  I don't think I'd really have any issues with personally accepting a homosexual serving openly with me.  I wouldn't be afraid to shower with them, or sleep in the same room.  What I do care about is my soldiers, and I am wary of anything which can threaten their readiness.  For every straight soldier who leaves the service, we lose a trained straight soldier.  They may be closed-minded and unwilling to accept  new ideas, but they have specific technical knowledge of the military that can only be replaced by training a replacement, which takes time and treasure, and there will be an experience gap until that person is trained and experienced to the same point as the person they replaced.

I doubt we'll be having formations marching in gay pride parades any time soon (which apparently, the Brits do).

I've heard repeated enough that as a military, we are a reflection of society and society is accepting of homosexuality, so we should be as well.  I can't balance that in my mind with laws which place a more severe penalty on crimes against homosexuals if they are "hate" crimes.  (Because nobody commits violent crimes against people they love.)  I have also been taught, as a matter of policy, that we are a force which holds itself to a higher standard than general society as the explanation for why we don't allow some things--including what clothes can be worn off duty, what words we can or can't use, what kinds of tattoos we can have, and what can be pierced.  For instance, males can have pierced ears, but cannot wear earrings when off duty, but on base.  Nothing else can be pierced.  (Which is a real bummer, as I've always dreamed of having a Prince Albert.)  The reasons for this are discipline, standards, and also because our actions are a reflection on our military.  The logic does not continue, however, that we are a reflection on the military, which is a reflection of society, and therefore our individual actions are acceptable as a reflection of society.

We are either a reflection of society, or we aren't.  We either hold ourselves apart from society, or we don't.  We either accept the standards that are equally acceptable to society, or we set our own standards.  This doesn't mean we can't modify our standards as society changes, because we can.  We need to be just and judicious in when, why, and how we make those changes.  You can turn an Aircraft Carrier, but you must take care to neither over-steer, over-correct, nor under-steer.  Changing the policy on homosexuals serving openly isn't the first step on a slippery slope.  It may someday lead to the acceptance of transsexuals, hermaphrodites, and even midgets.

If it hadn't been for some specific policy changes already, I, and thousands of soldiers like me who've lost various body parts, would no longer be allowed to serve.  In that aspect, the military made a good (although politically and publicly easy) decision.  No one is worried about having to see my scarred ass in the shower, or asking what happens when a soldier's prosthetic snaps while on a patrol.  We accept that some soldiers have limitations based on their service but that as long as they are willing, they can serve.
Still Not Ghey
So I am okay with changing the policy.  Like many things, I don't understand many aspects of the change or the reasons for the change; I put trust in my superiors that they have figured that stuff out.  They have taken very smart people and put them on the task of solving the problems and hurdles we'll face.  Even if they haven't figured it all out, we'll figure it out as we get there, because that's what we, as a military do once we've been given our orders. There were issues with race and gender when we changed those policies, and there still are issues with race and gender (which can be demonstrated by our regulations and special staff in the Equal Opportunity offices.)  Maybe my apathy in general is the truest reflection of society.  I know that the overall impact on my life will be minimal, the impact on my way of life will be minimal, so I don't really see this as a problem.
Surprise!  Ghey!

If you'll excuse me, I'm going to Wal-mart with the rest of America.


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