Tuesday, Sept. 21, the U.S. Senate vote on the National Defense Authorization Act failed. The defense bill included a provision that would have repealed the military’s policy of don’t ask, don’t tell (DADT), which prevents lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) soldiers from serving openly. Since then, the entire debate regarding this policy has regained national attention and everybody seems to have an opinion.
What continues to shock me is the blatantly homophobic and discriminatory arguments proponents of maintaining DADT are continuously using. These groups and individuals need to be held accountable for their bigotry. The three largest arguments regarding maintaining DADT are incompatibility of homosexuality with military “morality” and “discipline,” the threat to “unit cohesion” and a repeal of DADT would hurt recruitment and retention of military personnel. All three of these arguments are as homophobic as they are laughable.
First, U.S. Code Title 10, Subtitle G, Section 654, the code from which DADT originates, states “the presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability” (Part A, Section 15). This equation of homosexuality with immorality is blatant ignorance.
Whether or not homosexuality is moral is definitely not a decision the U.S. government or military should be making for our society. Being gay in no way makes one individual more or less moral than his or her straight counterparts. I know a lot of other things many people would likely find more immoral than sexual orientation. There also are repeated references to “homosexual acts” that gay soldiers would be unable to refrain from sexual misconduct with their straight comrades because apparently all homosexuals are crazed sex addicts. This is, again, ridiculous and offensive. Right-wingers seem to think homosexuals will join the military and risk their lives in a warzone just to catch a glimpse of their fellow soldiers naked in the showers.
The second argument is the threat to unit cohesion that having gay soldiers present will make other troops uncomfortable. I don’t understand how this is the gay soldier’s problem. Not allowing gay soldiers to serve openly because it makes their straight comrades uncomfortable is ridiculous. If a soldier were uncomfortable with serving with another soldier because they were, for example, African-American or Jewish or Middle-Eastern, would the military make the same accommodations for that one soldier’s ignorance? Probably not.
The third argument is repealing DADT would hurt military recruitment and retention. The U.S. military and the Obama administration seem to think a repeal of DADT would force thousands of soldiers to leave the military in protest — a mass exodus as part of a “heterosexual panic.” Apparently, having one of your coworkers come out as gay is reason enough for you to quit your job. Are these people serious? These people are apparently blissfully ignorant to the fact millions of Americans do in fact work alongside gay people every day. Yes, America, gay people walk among you. Surprise.
Overall, I think America needs to recognize the arguments in favor of maintaining DADT for what they are- ignorance and homophobia. Let’s stop giving credibility to these arguments and repeal DADT so LGBT soldiers can have the same rights every other American enjoys. I have a feeling if America ever needed to enact a draft, the military would find a way to quickly repeal DADT in order to draft LGBT Americans instead of dragging its feet like it is doing now.