Friday, June 08, 2007

For ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ Split on Party Lines

From the New York Times courtesy of AlterNet:

The presidential candidates are dividing starkly along party lines on one of the signature fights of the 1990s: whether the 14-year-old policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” should be repealed and gay men and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military.

In back-to-back debates in New Hampshire this week, every Democratic candidate raised his or her hand in support of repealing that policy, while not a single Republican embraced the idea. Democrats argued with striking unanimity that it was time to end the uneasy compromise that President Bill Clinton reached in 1993, after his attempt to lift the ban on gay men and lesbians in the military provoked one of the most wrenching fights of his young administration.

Republicans countered that the policy should not be changed, certainly not in time of war.

Click here for the rest.

Things have changed. I'm still outraged with the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sam Nunn, for his arrogant and homophobic opposition to President Clinton's attempt to repeal the ban. Indeed, this wouldn't even be an issue today if so many Democrats hadn't sided with Republicans on the issue fourteen years ago. It's nice to see that some Democrats have grown up a bit since then.

And really, there's just no good reason for the ban, especially in light of all those desperately needed gay Arabic translators thrown out after 9/11. The argument that openly gay troops somehow hurt unit cohesion is bogus on its face: this is clearly a command issue, and if straight soldiers don't want to follow orders, then they have no business being in the military in the first place. That is, I don't see why commanders can't simply order their troops to just deal with it. That's what Ike did when he integrated black and white units decades ago, and racist soldiers did a fine job of just dealing with it. Besides, if our fighting men and women are afraid of homosexuals, we're in much more trouble than any of us could ever imagine. Other arguments, like the "social engineering with the military is wrong" point of view, are even weaker. Like I said, we've already done the same thing with race. And with women. It's all homophobia.

The great irony here is that homosexuals serve, and have served for decades, honorably, without any problems--usually, their straight comrades know who's gay, and if they serve well, it's no big deal. When are we ever going to get over this bullshit?