Archive for December 2010

Back to Work? Next Steps in DADT Repeal

December 20, 2010

Why wasn’t I as bubbly as one of Lady Gaga’s “little monsters” once the senate voted for cloture on the DADT repeal? Thanks to an all too rare (these days) show of bipartisan effort, it breezed through both chambers (despite the occasional ridiculous bluster of “the gays will get our boys killed” rhetoric). More surprisingly, the conservative news outlets were strangely silent in the wake of the vote. Have I just become programmed to want more of a fight? Not really. But my sincere appreciation of the efforts thus far is tempered by a sneaky suspicion that the uglier fights are coming later.

I keep thinking back to my Marine friend’s comments in my last post. Though they are shrouded in the language of practicality, you don’t have to scratch too far below the surface to see the discomfort with gay people. And he’s a nice guy. There are plenty of people around him, I’m sure, who are not. They are the people who used to pry into the private lives of gay soldiers who weren’t “telling” in order to get rid of them.

I believe there will be a period where gay soldiers will bear the brunt of less subtle attempts to get rid of them. And sadly with General Amos’s poor leadership on this matter, the would-be abusers have all but gotten a written permission slip to terrorize. One reason I was hoping Amos would be fired was so that a smarter, stronger and more fair-minded person would take his place.

The end game is a win. Sure it will be a while before f****t leaves the verbal arsenal of crusty drill sergeants, but it won’t be long before some giant, chiseled, Skoal-spitting stack of gay concrete is in charge of whipping a platoon of jarheads into shape. We’ll see what happens then.

My friend Karen believes this step may just be the beginning of some other important things to come for equal rights for gay families. For instance, how does one handle spousal benefits in a federal institution like the military fairly? For these, we’ll all have to stay tuned. Be prepared for a return to “states rights” and “secession” talk when these issues are tackled. I’m sure those icebergs have only begun to surface.

What’s Up with the Marines?

December 15, 2010

So you know how Facebook brings the whole clan of your past together – all the people who knew the really ignorant you from years ago and the ones who know the ostensibly less ignorant you of today? I’ve always kind of liked that about Facebook, even (especially?) when it brings opposing views together. Considering the jacked up tone of discourse in other parts of our national conversation, I prefer to hear civil talk among non-strangers about important issues.

Last week I posted a frustrated status update about how I didn’t understand why Republicans were so dead set on blocking the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell when a majority of Americans, the Pentagon, and enlisted folks think doing so would have a net positive effect. I put things like that out there on Facebook in part because I have a big mouth and need an outlet to express myself, but also because I know it will invite responses that keep me honest and show me other perspectives. My friend Karen pointed out that Obama and the Democrats don’t have clean fingers when it comes to this mess either, and she’s right. At present, I’m not convinced Obama wants the repeal of DADT.

I was honored to have one of my childhood friends who serves in the military say he didn’t think now was the time for a repeal. In a later message, this is what he wrote:

Ok, the survey is and was bogus if you looked at it. I had to fill it out, as well as my wife. They questions were in a very vague format, which would have been very easy to direct either way, but that isn’t the real problem with the survey…the big deal is that thw services were made to fill this out like any other survey that soldiers are made to do. On the other note, I lived with a gay dude for 4 years, so I am not a homophobe. This issue with DADT is about 4 different issues…when I have a computer instead of a blackberry, I can talk about the other issues: housing, living quarters in a wartime environment, awareness training that soldiers will have to go under, issues of legal spouses and marriage and benefits, and the list goes on…

My response is below:

I will look forward to when you have a computer because I would like to hear more about your perspective.

I’m sure you don’t think spouses of gay soldiers are entitled to fewer benefits than those of straight soldiers (anymore than my family should be entitled to fewer rights and privileges than yours), so I’m trying to imagine what the issue would be there and can’t come up with anything.

And I’m also curious about the difference between housing and living quarters in a wartime environment. I would assume a wartime environment would mean closer quarters, but as you’ve said, you already serve with gay soldiers, and I assume as long as everyone is professional enough to avoid unwanted advances that would not be a problem (if not, harassment charges would be in order). Personally, as a gay man who has showered and slept in the same bed with many straight men with no issues, I have a hard time imagining what the big deal is. Is it so different in the field?

As for awareness training, I can see how timing would be an issue here. I see it as necessary, but at the same time I realize we are a nation with combat priorities right now. My understanding is that repealing DADT would not mean that full implementation would have to happen immediately. Am I wrong about that? Honestly, at this point I would just be happy if they stopped discharging innocent people and robbing them of their pensions until they can figure out how to implement the repeal.

As for the survey, I’m actually surprised that the troops were surveyed at all, let alone their spouses. As far as I know, personnel decisions are not democratically decided in any large organization, and especially not ones charged with defending the values of equality and freedom for all.

I realize this is personal for you as an armed serviceman, and please understand that I do appreciate your service. But I hope you understand that this is personal for me, too. I’m trying to raise a son to believe all people in this country are created equally, and that the wars we support are for the sake of defending ideals such as this. DADT goes against those values as far as I am concerned.

So, when you get access to a computer and you have some time, let me know where you’re coming from on this.

Thanks and be safe,

Troy

So far I haven’t heard back from him. I checked out the survey myself to see it was as confusing as my friends suggested. It seemed pretty straight forward to me, but any readers who may understand where he’s coming from can fill me in. I’m cutting him some slack in getting back to me since he is fighting a war!

While most of the military commanders recommend repeal, I keep hearing the Marine Commandant, General Jim Amos talk about how a repeal would disrupt “unit cohesion” and “cost lives” (??!!!), but he doesn’t seem to be able to provide examples of how.

My dad was a Marine. My impression has always been that when Marines are told to do something by a superior they do it or suffer the consequences. NOT following commands is what costs lives. Has the military changed that philosophy and moved to a more consensus building approach when it comes to personnel issues? It’s very confusing to me.

Prepare to hear more comparisons (fair or not) between Truman and Obama on how the repeal is handled. There were certainly no surveys distributed to find out if our troops were comfortable with racial integration of our forces back in the late 1940’s.