Since the end of the Civil War, the United States has honored its fallen service members on Memorial Day so it seems appropriate for those of us associated with Bi Social Network to remember the members of the BLGT community who have served and died in action.
It also seems rather appropriate to note the continued effects the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy has on bisexual, lesbian and gay service members. It’s even rather interesting — shall we say — that the House of Representatives voted to repeal DADT so close to the holiday. The Senate Armed Services Committee in turn voted to approve the repeal measure, sending it to the full Senate for a vote. If the Senate votes to repeal, then it would go into effect only after the projected December 1st submittal of a report by a Pentagon Working Group.
There seem to be more politicians for the repeal than against. There seem to be more military top brass for the repeal than against. More Americans are comfortable with same-sex attractions than ever before. Yet there still seem to be a fair number of heels dug in. If the measure voted on by the House passes the Senate, then we need to wait for a Pentagon report to come through. It seems the closer we get the more games are being played.
I remember when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” went into effect seventeen years ago. I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing. The convoluted compromise to the outright ban on bisexuals, gay men and lesbians in the military sounded more like Ionesco than sound, mature defense policy. You must be joking, I remember thinking. No, they weren’t joking, using irony or displaying one iota of wit. The government was as earnest as ever.
As a nation we have been going back and forth over DADT since then. I find it a sign of progress that former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Colin Powell has changed his mind on the issue. The current Chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, is also in favor of repeal. Have we finally understood the many costs of this policy? Some 13,000 women and men have been discharged from the Armed Forces and we have lost some $1.3 billion in training as blogger Megan McDonald Scanlon notes in “The Hidden Costs of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’” at thehill.com.
We have highly qualified personnel who are willing to fight and put their lives on the line for the United States. We are in the middle of two wars, as well as a continuing economic downturn and worsening environmental degradation to name just two other pressing matters. We should already have joined all the other nations which do not measure the competency of their soldiers by their sexuality.
In spite of all the people of good will trying to move us forward on this matter, I find it disturbing that we have been so slow integrate bisexuals, lesbians and gay men into the military — among other areas.
What is it in the national character that makes us so resistant to change? What makes us so unwilling to take the decisive steps necessary and instead plod along with the more level-headed among us trying to do a delicate dance?
It seems rather disrespectful not only to BGLT service members but all members of the Armed Forces. Let’s so some respect for our military women and men by closing this matter once and for all so we can attend to the critical issues facing them and our society today.