Degrees of Oddity

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Repealed

February 4th, 2011

Last month, or rather last year, a very controversial military act was repealed, which banned those who were gay or lesbian from revealing who exactly they were.  While advocates of the repeal viewed this as a success, opponents viewed the repeal as a major hit against military personnel currently fighting overseas.  One side claims that men and women are dying in the name of this country while lying about themselves in order to be able to serve.  The other claims that the repeal will put lives in danger as those who were hidden before come out to their fellows.  Both sides think theirs is the right one, and that the other is in the wrong.  Interwoven throughout the controversial debate are the thoughts that this repeal was pushed through by the democrats to spite the republicans about to enter office.  At the forefront, however, is the issue at hand.  Should gay and lesbian individuals be allowed to openly serve in the military?

This entire debate has to do with the Fourteenth Amendment, most specifically equality.  This has been a civil rights issue for several decades.  In fact, it seemed to first rise up in the 60s when the Civil Rights Movement was occurring.  Chapter Five in my Political Science textbook discusses the varying degrees of equality that have either been gained or are still being fought for by the people of the United States.  In fact, the book even lists gay and lesbian rights in the same chapter as rights for blacks or women, which might lead a reader to think that they are all on the same level.  In fact, they are.  All three movements have to do with equality, but for different reasons.  One has to do with color, another with gender and the third with sexuality.  The linked article deals with the third equality issue.

If the military does not discriminate based on gender or color, why should it then discriminate based on sexuality?  That seems to be what the senators who voted for the repeal are asking.  These men and women are dying for us, regardless of their sexuality.  In fact, these men and women are lying in order to get into the military so that they can fight for a country that discriminates against them.   The book lists a poll done in 2007 that said three quarters of service members had no qualms about serving with gay men or lesbians.  Three quarters, that’s a lot of people.  My Political Science course is about considering and thinking about how the government affects my life.  This topic is something that affects my life in that I will finally no longer read stories about individuals who are dishonorably discharged due to their sexuality.

As a citizen, I view this as another act against discrimination.  In my mind, if discrimination against sexuality is allowed to continue and even encouraged then where is the line drawn?  Discrimination falls across everything and sexuality seems to be just the latest trench war.  For seventeen years individuals had to lie about who they were, as sexuality is a fundamental part of a person’s identity, those same individuals may have died fighting for our rights as Americans while living under a policy that could get them kicked out of their career.

If the military and, through it, the government takes the first steps in this form of equality perhaps businesses will follow.  Currently someone might be fired due to their sexuality.  This is the same as firing a woman due to the fact that she is pregnant. Nowhere on a job application is it asked what the potential-employee’s sexuality is, and why not?  The simple reason is that it’s not important.  The capabilities of the individual applying are what’s important.

This repeal might be the first, historical step in getting closer to “equality for all.”  As a citizen of a country that claims such a thing is important, that’s important to me.  I’d like to see a society where a person, regardless of age, disability, gender, skin color or sexuality is treated as just that – a person.  In the 1960s and 1970s, the Civil Rights Movement forced a lot of massive changes, but then that was a love of different minorities fighting for their rights as citizens of this great country.  The Movement seems to have become quieter, smaller as various groups adjusted to new times.  The one group that seems to have always gotten the short end of the stick are homosexuals; even the government refused to support those of a sexuality different from the ‘norm.’  This repeal is just one act of a much longer play, and it will stop the discharging of perfectly capable individuals.

One of the major problems with the dishonorable discharge was that it is usually reserved for those who have acted criminally.  By using the same discharge for those who were revealed to be homosexual, the government was saying that those people were doing something illegal or completely wrong.  This is not a message our government should want to promote to the people as a whole, especially not when everyone is fighting so very hard for the exact same thing – Equality.  There may be people against the idea of gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, but these people have been serving and even dying for us, so why should they not be given the same rights as their fellow military personnel?  They should have the right to be who they are without fearing punishment.

As a citizen, I think this is a step forward toward equality, and believe that to have permanently banned homosexuals from performing in the military would have been a massive step backwards.  For seventeen years, the military has basically promoted the idea that it is acceptable to treat homosexuals like dirt and fire them for a job well done due to the fact that they like others of the same gender.  This mistake has hopefully been changed permanently.  I’d like to see the men and women serving our country able to stand tall without fearing for their military careers.

The Article

The Presentation

Repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

3 Responses to ““Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Repealed”

  1. Kimmerlyn says:

    Great essay. Very well stated and thought provoking.

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