Thursday, March 4, 2010

Empty Words (From October 18th, 2009)

One thing I've noticed in my short tenure on this planet, is politicians, be they student council hopefuls or presidential candidates, like to make promises and take stances that seem to be forgotten once they take office. I remember a certain girl whose platform in middle school was based solely on extending our lunch period by ten to fifteen minutes. The Republicans like to talk about making abortion illegal to appeal to all of their religious followers and the Democrats like to talk about going green and beefing up education. But once elected, these things never seem to get done.

Most of, if not all of these things are quite attainable. Maybe not the absurd quest to abolish a woman's right to choose, but the other things are definitely doable. This brings me to a serious issue which was brought up over and over again last year during the presidential race - Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Then, Senator Obama spoke out repeatedly against this policy and swore up and down that he would do his best to get rid of it as soon as he took office. Here we are, nine months and counting, and it's still in effect.

I understand that the economy is beyond wrecked and the War on Error is still going strong. We've had to deal with Guantanamo and healthcare, Teabaggers and Peace Prizes. All that aside, all it takes is one swoop of that Presidential Pen and an Executive Order can be passed that wipes DADT off the books.

Many people are arguing over the logistics of such an act. I don't see why. I don't see why there's so much uproar over gays in the military to begin with. There are a TON serving right now. Whether or not they're open about it is irrelevant. We know who they are. I can look back over the last six years and tell you exactly who was gay and who wasn't. It's the worst kept secret in the world.

I remember when I joined, I signed dozens of papers that in effect, said "You can BE gay, you just can't act that way. If you are caught engaging in homosexual acts, you can and will be punished under the UCMJ..." Dozens of pages of nonsense that had absolutely nothing to do with my physical or mental competency or the job I had chosen to do in the military. What other job has a contract like this? None of them do. Why? Discrimination. So why is the federal government allowed to discriminate based on sexual orientation?

The senseless homophobia in this country is deterring some of our best servicemen and women from re-enlisting. It's giving people ridiculous ideas about what would happen if gays were allowed to serve openly. One of which is the idea that rape incidents would increase. This is completely absurd and unfair.

The religious right is assuming that someone's sexual preference makes them aggressive and prone to sexual assault. Let me ask you this: As a heterosexual man/woman, when you see someone of the opposite sex and you find them attractive, so you force yourself on them? When you ask someone out and they say "no", do you beat them up and rape them? I didn't think so.

I think I speak for most men in the military when I say I don't give a shit whether or not one of my coworkers is gay. We've got more important things to worry about than whether or not so and so likes it in the back door. It's not even an issue and the idea that it would be is laughable. I care about whether or not they show up on time and do a decent job. I care about whether or not they've got their quals up to date and if they know what they're doing in their jobs.

I understand that there are still going to be prejudiced, ignorant people that want to give homosexuals a hard time. They will be dealt with. Sexual harassment is sexual harassment is sexual harassment, regardless of who the perpetrator or victim is. Hazing is hazing and hate crimes are hate crimes. I don't want those people in the military. Again, they will be dealt with.

It's going to be a long, rough road ahead, but we might as well start the journey now. President Truman de-segregated the military with an Executive Order back in 1948 and it took a LONG time for things to settle in the ranks, but without that order, where would we be? The same goes for homosexuals. It's not going to be easy, but the sooner we take care of this problem, the sooner things will calm down.

So let's do it, Mr. President. Let's get rid of a dumb policy that is nothing more than a joke anyway. Let's allow the men and women that fight for this country the right to stop hiding who they are from everyone. It will cost you nothing short of some ink and a few pieces of paper. It won't cost you votes in the next election, because the only people that will hate it are the ones who didn't vote for you last year either. What are you waiting for?

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