“Speaking for myself and myself only, it is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do.”
– Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
In a word, duh. But what repeatedly jump-starts the hackles living on my person is the ridiculous notion that the armed forces has to consider the feelings and objections of the commanders and other soldiers who oppose allowing gays to openly serve. Frankly, in this case, it’s nothing more than a delaying tactic and political grandstanding meant to appease a fundy-conservative voting block; an illusory defense of “I tried, I really did!” used by a politician so that his/her voting base doesn’t hang him out to dry the next time a primary comes around.
Even if we take that notion at face value–that the armed forces truly considers the objections of its underlings–I find myself caring very little about the hurt feelings of uniformed homophobes any more than I care about the historical objections when Truman issued Executive Order 9981 in 1948 and cleansed the armed forces of official racial segregation. (I’m not burdened by any delusions that segregation stopped then and there, but it was a damned good start.)
Kicking valued, educated officers and soldiers out of the military solely on what happens legally and privately in the bedroom, is the wrong thing to do and seriously undermines the oft-repeated slogan that the military is here to “defend the country.” You’re not defending the country by discharging those who could contribute the most; instead, you’re tearing yourself apart and weakening your versatility and ability to meet challenges–all for entirely irrational reasons.
If a soldier or officer rebels because he refuses command or otherwise can’t control his homophobia? Discipline him as you would any other disobedient member. If he continues? Then perhaps you’ve finally found the correct type of person who reduces the military’s strength and effectiveness, and maybe it’s time to send him packing.
And hopefully, when this kind of discrimination is finally weeded out, maybe the rest of society will learn a lesson or two and abandon its fundy resistance to allowing gays to enjoy full equal rights. It will happen one day–I don’t fear that it won’t–but it would be nice for it to happen a lot sooner than I expect it will.