The other evening on the Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel was discussing the current state of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) in our military. And after hearing further details about this policy and those it is affecting, I was left appalled. In a time when our military resources are as limited as they are, this policy seems outdated and insulting. But before I was ready to list my various reasons in a blog post, I called my friend who is a military wife and we had a very interesting discussion.
Before we jump into this topic, the actual DADT policy can be found here. Also, I would suggest that you watch the Rachel Maddow’s piece that got me all riled up in the first place.
The GLAAD blog also ties a lot of the recent discussion and media coverage together here.
From where I sit as a mom with a vested interest in equal rights, but with no connection to the military, it’s very easy for me to jump head first into a discussion about discrimination and say that DADT is wrong. In my eyes, the policy seems inexcusable and counterproductive.
We are living in a time when our military’s resources are being stretched extraordinarily thin. Men and women are being called to serve 3 or 4 tours of duty in a row, more than they ever signed on for. However, since DADT was made an official policy 15 years ago, almost 13,000 military personnel have been dismissed for being out about their sexual orientation.
I know I am no military guru, but it simply boils down to this: the government is turning away men and women who are willing to protect, fight and die for our country based on a personal lifestyle choice. DADT seems nothing more than a written policy allowing for discrimination in the military. During a time of war, while men and women work and fight to protect us, sexual preference actually matters? Really? Does it? The government is assuming that an out gay individual is actually a threat? Our military is facing all sorts of threats right now, but a gay officer certainly is not one of them. In a time of war or not, discrimination is never ok.
Another point: it is currently legal for same sex couples to marry in an increasing number of states. And in these states, hetero and homosexual married couples are allowed the same rights. Yet our government won’t allow these same residents to be out about their lives or their spouses if they were to enlist in the military? DADT is ridiculous and far too outdated.
But then I called my friend. Her husband is currently serving in Iraq and the military has been a part of their lives for well over a decade. My friend is a wonderful, progressive, baby wearing mom (it is no wonder we are as close as we are). So I asked her. Certainly this policy is something that is simply outdated, correct? Actual personnel in the military can’t possibly agree with this… right?
Well. The answer was not an easy one. This is what I learned. Serving in the military means more than simply having a job. It means you answer to the military for your private and professional life. And if a superior determines a policy, you do not question it. Also, policies, procedures and processes have been set up through history to carefully protect those that serve. To question or break down any of those ingrained policies would take a great deal of congressional work, time, paper shuffling, red tape rearranging, recruitment efforts, educating, briefings and – most importantly – money. Change in the military does not come quickly. Change in the military is not spurred on by political correctness or peer pressure. And she pointed out that during a war such as this, would changing up personnel policies right now be the best time to do so?
We debated for a long time. Our principles certainly do not jibe with how the military does things. I argued that women have recently been given more rights and responsibilities in the military so change is possible – but she argued back “barely”. While minority groups (“out” homosexual personnel aside) serve in the military, they are still very often (although certainly not always) discriminated against. That’s just the way it is.
But still. We can’t be afraid to push for equality just because discrimination in the army is really really hard to change, right? We can’t sit back and swallow DADT just because it is a very expensive pain in the ass to rectify, correct? I have certainly learned that a quick policy change will not just happen overnight with the wave of Obama’s wand. Nevertheless, DADT is outdated, outrageous and flat out discriminatory. I hope Obama does right by his promise to “fulfill his commitment” to change this policy (as noted in the letter on Maddow’s show). I am proud of our military personnel who serve our country, whatever their background, creed, color or sexual orientation. It is time our government is too.
Finally, last night, Rachel Maddow interviewed another decorated solider who has been dismissed for being gay after 18 years of service. This man has done amazing things for our country – what a loss. Please watch.
Cross posted on Type A Moms.