Life + Arts

DADT policy stains US’s image

As little as a few weeks ago, the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” seemed like yet another carrot for President Barack Obama to dangle in front of the Human Rights Campaign and other politically interested LGBT donors.

After the one-two punch of his State of the Union Address and the testimony of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the discriminatory policy has been thrust to the forefront of American consciousness.

According to recent polls, two out of three Americans believe DADT should be repealed. Four out of five think the government should stop seeking to punish gay service members.

With such an overwhelming numerical superiority in favor of axing this policy from the Clinton administration, one wonders why legislators are dragging their heels on the issue.  

Certainly there are die-hard bigots. Teacher says every time a lesbian belle sings, a FOX News anchor cries.

But a bigger issue is that perfectly reasonable Americans who support equality view the issue as a side note to the host of problems besieging the country. 

“As long as gays can serve in the military, what’s it matter if they can be open or not about their sexuality?” May Lissou said during a discussion about DADT.

The answer to this is multi-faceted. First of all, there’s stress. It’s human nature in times of discord, such as one would find on a battlefield, to talk about loved ones and even sexual encounters to relieve stress. When one of the estimated 66,000 is denied the comfort of participating in such a basic human ritual, there is an unnecessary level of dysfunction created within that individual.

Secondly, there is the principle of job security. Being a soldier isn’t for everybody, but for those who pursue the career, they are basically saying that they love their job enough to die for it.  

For people who risk so much and put so much pride into what they do, what greater fear could they have than being told by their boss that they are being fired for an inconsequential reason beyond their control? This fear is a daily reality for many within our armed services, and it’s a disgrace that our nation still allows them feel it.

Thirdly, there is, as Mullen put it, the concept of integrity.  Integrity and honor are core principles of a soldier’s life. It’s what separates them from murderers, and it’s what is trod upon every time our fighting men and women are forced to lie so that they can spend their blood in our defense.

Those who say that allowing gays to serve openly in the military would force soldiers to quit the military should look at Afghanistan. Our soldiers are already serving with open LGBT comrades from other nations, including Britain, France and Canada. Yet, no mass exodus has occurred.  

For those interested in helping to add the U.S. to the long list of modern Western nations that believe in service member equality, helping out is as easy as calling a few congressional representatives.  

Six representatives from Texas — all Democrats — support the bill to repeal DADT. Houston’s own Sheila Jackson-Lee is one of the supporting representatives, but there are still 26 who do not. That includes Harris County’s Ted Poe.

Log on and use any search engine to find out how these, and other, representatives can be reached. One phone call can make all the difference. 

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