It's a bit startling how quickly this DADT legislation got moving. I have to admire the Democrats, who, in a rare fit of effective strategy, pulled the votes in the House and Senate Armed Services Committee out of what seemed to be an invisible hat. I can only assume that this was a tactic designed to deprive the Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats of the opportunity to rally forces of resistance.
But there's still time to mount opposition, because it will not take effect until the Pentagon completes a review of its effect on military readiness.
How exactly would we measure whether military readiness was, in fact, harmed? It's pretty clear that allowing gays to serve in the military would actually improve military readiness, rather than harm it, but even if it had a detrimental effect, is that a decent reason keep the policy in place? Why do we regard the efforts necessary to protect disfavored minority groups as a drain on our resources? After all, sexual assault in the military costs us a great deal, but the solution is to stop the assaults, not to keep women out of the service.
If it harms military readiness, it is only because of discrimination and homophobia, conditions which, if they exist, need to be stamped out firmly from the top down. The idea that straight soldiers can't handle serving with gay soldiers lives on, despite its inaccuracy. Some lawmakers have such a low opinion of straight soldiers that they think straight soldiers would rather let their fellow soldiers die than defend someone who is gay.
So, instead of holding all our soldiers to a high standard of respect, tolerance, and solidarity, we just assume that the straight ones can't handle it, and force gay soldiers to lie or be discharged. It's funny -- I thought the military was all about honor. How honorable is it to have a policy where people are encouraged to lie? We already have gays serving in the military; they just have to lie about being gay. And it's not even working: "Nearly one in four U.S. troops (23%) say they know for sure that someone in their unit is gay or lesbian." Nevertheless, we spend millions of dollars enforcing the law every year, and lose valuable, committed soldiers.
I wish someone had told the White House that there already was such a report. But I suppose we'll just have to spend a few hundred thousand more taxpayer dollars to satisfy the frothing homophobes. For military readiness, of course.
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