Sunday, March 28, 2010

Flamin' Freedom Fighters


Blogger Note: Yes I am aware this is the second blog in a row with such an ostentatious triple-F title, but as the terms brought a smile, I simply couldn't pass it up, so bear with me.

We all know I am never short on words, especially when the discussion takes a turn into equal rights and discriminating laws. Recently the fight to repeal the long-standing Don't Ask Don't Tell law in military service has revved up, and everyone is coming out of the woodworks to voice their opinion, from high ranking officials to dishonorably discharged soldiers, and arguments range from ridiculously twisted to inescapably infallible.

Now it wasn't long ago that DADT was considered "progress" for gays in the military. Previously being completely banned from serving, in 1993, homosexuals were then legally allowed to serve so long as they remained in that dusty closet cloaked in shame. However, had they been found out, the U.S. military was well within their right to discharge the so-called sexual deviants. Now, attempting to make good on his promise, President Obama is strong-arming law-makers to repeal the draconian standard and allow gays to serve openly. Naturally, he is not battling without opposition.

Several senators and military leaders are fervently speaking out against this motion. Former senator Rick Santorum claimed that those in the military supporting the change are simply bound by political correctness and, (pun intended?) "cannot see straight". He believes that somehow allowing gays to openly serve will diminish the effectiveness and readiness of the armed forces. Though such a concept seems clouded by flawed and bigoted rationale, General John Sheehan reiterated the thought when he testified in front of the committee at the DADT hearings last week. He alleged that when the Dutch allowed openly gay soldiers to serve in the military, it weakened the infrastructure of their forces and opened the door for the Srebrenica massacre of 1995, where the Dutch were overwhelmed by Bosnian serbs and 8,000 muslims were killed during an ethnic-cleansing genocide. (The Dutch government is vehemently denying the allegations).

Another statement came from MC-General James Conway, who announced that he would not force his soldiers to bunk with other gay servicemen. Currently soldiers' living quarters consist of double-bunks, though Conway insists that men should either be permitted to refuse a gay roommate or the government will have to provide single bunks for soldiers from now on. While I can appreciate the discomfort of living in close quarters, sleeping with, and essentially having to undress in front of an individual who may find you attractive (this is why women and men do not share bunks), the notion that gays will have to be segregated from heterosexuals simply because we assume they cannot control themselves is preposterous. Overly concerned with the personal comfort of their soldiers, what these people do not seem to understand is that the trend of homophobia is no different from discrimination against any other minority group. Some servicemen may come from the deep south where racism is disturbingly rampant and claim that they are not "comfortable" sharing quarters with an African American. However, undoubtedly, such a complaint would not only be overlooked, it would probably be reprimanded.

On the other hand, those protesting for the repeal are not in short supply either. After years of holding the policy in place, Colin Powell has finally lent his voice of support, claiming perspectives have changed and, contrary to Gen. Sheehan, he believes that other countries' open policies have shown that openly gay servicemen and women will not harm the armed forces. Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently passed a modification of the policy stating that hearsay, anonymous tips, confidence of military doctors and confessions to clergy cannot be used to initiate proceedings to discharge GLBT soldiers. Such factors have previously contributed to the 1,300 discharges conducted since the 1993 policy was enacted. Most importantly, it seems obvious Congress is falling into step behind Obama, and the repeal is not only promising, but practically guaranteed.

My own issue with this matter is not only the blatant denial of allowing men and women to serve, protect, and die for their country, in a time of war where enlistment is diminishing. My biggest beef is that these individuals are not fighting for their own freedoms. They have few compared to the general population of America. They can't marry in 45 states. Slightly fewer states ban gay adoption. In most, they can be fired from their jobs if found out, and the federal government has done nothing to provide equal rights or even anti-discrimination laws (gays are not specifically protected from hate crimes in federal laws). And yet, they still wish to fight for us, while we sleep under the security they have afforded us, while we sit at home and vote away their rights, and while we publicly scorn them with dishonorable discharges when their harmless secret slips out.

One can only hope that DADT will soon be a thing of the past, but don't be so sure we won't hear it again...Bibi Netanyahu of Israel is hijacking the phrase in what has been referred to as a paralleled shame, Israel's illegal occupation and continuing construction in Jerusalem. While the U.S. has demanded Israel cease all construction, Netanyahu has asked America to adopt yet another version of DADT, in other words, they won't stop building, but it will be a secret, and we will just look the other way until the rest of the world kicks us in the shin for hiding behind the guise of ignorance, yet again.

Personally I don't think gays should even serve in the military, my viewpoint is the heteros started the wars, let 'em finish them. I can't say with full conviction that I would die for a country that denied me my basic freedoms. But if they want to serve, who are we to question those who have the guts to do what so many of us won't? All I can say is God Bless those Flamin' Freedom Fighters.

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