Monday, November 17, 2003

LET'S SUPPORT OUR TROOPS... FOR REAL, THIS TIME
Last night, 60 Minutes did an interesting story about the impact of the farcical "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy. After 19 years and 51 weeks of exemplary service (as noted in his performance reviews), a distinguished was expelled for "homosexual conduct" only eight days before he could collect his pension. As a result, he estimates he will lose a million dollars in pension money over the next twenty years. This despite the fact that he never declared his sexual orientation, which is what "Don't Ask Don't Tell" supposedly targeted.

One apologists for "Don't Ask Don't Tell" explained that the policy was necessary because it protects the heterosexual soldiers right to privacy. As though the mere fact of having a homosexual colleague is a prima faece intrusion of privacy. But the argument is even more ridiculous for one simple reason. When you choose to join the military, you are volunteering to give up a certain degree of your rights. Men and women in uniform do not have the same free speech rights as civilians. Nor the same freedom of movement. If absolute privacy is a priority for you, don't volunteer for an organization where you have to share barracks, tents and showers with total strangers.

So despite 19.98 years of brave service, two bronze stars (one for heroism) and a Purple Heart, the military suddenly decides he's unfit to be a soldier because of his private life that he took great pains to keep private.

His service had to count for something. If he had killed the private [with whom he'd had a relationship], his service would've counted for something noted retired admiral John Huston, a former judge advocate general of the Navy who thinks "Don't Ask Don't Tell" should be ended.

Admiral Huston continued You can be openly gay, right now, and serve with the FBI, DEA, Secret Service. You can serve in the police departments and the fire departments in major cities across the country. You can serve in the military of Great Britain, Israel, Australia, Canada, France, Germany. You cannot serve openly and honorably in the armed forces of Belarus, Croatia, Russia and the United States of America... I think that we have the opportunity now. We've matured as a society. We're more sophisticated now in that we can change. And if you can change, then I think we have the moral imperative that we must change.

Maybe instead of simply mouthing the words "Honor our Heroes" and wearing ribbons to "support our troops," we should demand the military actually take concrete measures to do those things.

The full transcript of the 60 Minutes segment (what I posted earlier was a preview) can be found here.

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