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Monday, May 21, 2007

Gays in the Military

posted by on May 21 at 9:57 AM

Gays and lesbians are allowed to serve openly in the UK’s armed forces—British gay and lesbian soldiers are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, alongside US forces. Conservatives in the UK and the USA predicted chaos, conflict, strife, low morale, etc., when the Brits opened their armed services to homos seven years ago. So how did it work out?

Since the British military began allowing homosexuals to serve in the armed forces in 2000, none of its fears—about harassment, discord, blackmail, bullying or an erosion of unit cohesion or military effectiveness—have come to pass, according to the Ministry of Defense, current and former members of the services and academics specializing in the military. The biggest news about the policy, they say, is that there is no news. It has for the most part become a nonissue.

Of course.

Whenever conservatives are confronted with social change, conservatives predict chaos and moral disorder and the collapse of our civilization and boiling seas and toads falling from the sky and blah blah blah. Give women the vote? Integrate the schools? Decriminalize mixed-race marriages? Secure voting rights for all? Repeal sodomy laws? Fear-mongering social conservatives opposed all of these ideas.

Whenever a necessary social change is proposed, that change is resisted by social conservatives. They scream that this latest proposed change is dangerous and we’re warned once again of dire consequences, chaos, disorder, toads, etc. Then the social change comes—women are given the vote, mixed-race marriages are legalized, sodomy laws are repealed. And the dire consequences? They never materialize. Life goes on without toads raining down on our heads. And then, when the next necessary social change is proposed, the same social conservatives start screaming and yelling about all the dire consequences.

And somehow no one points out that these social conservatives have been wrong, all along, about everything, forever.

Today’s proposed social change is the integration of gay people—into our armed forces, into the institution of marriage, into family life. And the same social conservatives that opposed every good idea advanced over the last 100 years are giving us the same line shit they always do. Gay marriage? Gays and lesbians in the armed forces? Gay parents? Dire consequences for the American family! Moral chaos! Disorder! Toads! Tsunamis! Hurricanes! And on and on.

Why does anyone listen to social conservatives anymore? Again, they’re wrong, they’ve been wrong, about everything, forever.

RSS icon Comments

1

Thanks for writing about this. As a gay servicemember it sure seems like DADT doesn't get the same kind of respect as an equality issue as marriage, employment, adoption, etc.

Thanks again.

Posted by Gay Airman | May 21, 2007 10:04 AM
2

"social conservatives have been wrong, all along, about everything, forever."

A-frickin'-men. Wouldn't it be great if one of the Dem pres candidates could stand up and say that?

Posted by Levislade | May 21, 2007 10:13 AM
3

Wouldn't it be great to have an actual dem pres?

Posted by Mr. Poe | May 21, 2007 10:15 AM
4

People listen to social conservatives, because they speak in a manner that makes a particularly bigotry sound logical, an intellectual fig leaf. "I think man on man buttsex is gross," doesn't carry the same weight as, "I believe it would be detrimental to unit cohesion."

Posted by Gitai | May 21, 2007 10:19 AM
5

You are absolutely right Dan! Love this post! Thanks!

Posted by Suz | May 21, 2007 10:21 AM
6

They should study history. Alexander the Greatís elite troops were all gay men in committed couple relationships. History indicates they were an effective military force.

Posted by Sid Vicious | May 21, 2007 10:22 AM
7

People listen to social conservatives because most Americans are just like them: ignorant, hateful, hypocritical, illogical and self-contradictory. Thatís the real Inconvenient Truth. A quick review of an American history book confirms that hypothesis, and I donít see it changing anytime soon. Itís especially appalling considering how out of step we are in relation to the rest of the Western world, such as Canada and Europe.

That said, there is no logical reason for gay men and lesbians to serve in the military. I get that people need job training and so forth, but we shouldnít serve a right-wing kakistocracy like the US that hates us, condemns us and denies us equal rights.

Iíve read that as many as 40,000 healthy young gay men and lesbians would join the armed forces if DADT were repealed. Keeping the ban in place saves their lives and prevents them from becoming accomplices to this countryís lies and despicable war crimes.

Posted by Original Andrew | May 21, 2007 10:22 AM
8

ah, how little you understand the conservatives. while i am all in favour of civil dialogue, in some cases you have to frame the issue, or understand the what is at the root of it.

here are two (of many) examples of negative consequences some religious conservatives see:

1. slippery slope. if you let gays in the military, then government is accepting the homosexual lifestyle (whatever that means), which will lead to gay marriage, etc... they see each small step as leading to another small step. in this way they are correct.

2. unrelated disasters. if hurricane katrina and 911 can be blamed on some sin -- and people actually believe it -- then allowing gays to serve in the military will most certainly be linked to some other catastrophe.

you see, for many, the root issue is that if america pleases god, she will be blessed. but if america does not please god, she will be cursed. that is a primary motivation that probably shouldn't be overlooked.

Posted by infrequent | May 21, 2007 10:27 AM
9

@7 - I'm against the huge majority of what our military is doing in the world, and wouldn't join for a six-figure salary and all the Mighty-0 Donuts in the world, but that's my choice to make, and it should be any person's. There are plenty of gay people that want to serve their country in that way, and they should be allowed to.

Posted by Levislade | May 21, 2007 10:29 AM
10

good points original andrew. however, it's still not right to not allow someone to serve based on orientation. you might as well make the arguement there is no good reason for women to serve. or men for that matter!

Posted by infrequent | May 21, 2007 10:30 AM
11

"The Royal Navy ... has allowed gay sailors ... to march in full naval uniform at a gay pride rally in London."

Real gay sailors! Fuck yes! Go Britain!

Posted by Gloria | May 21, 2007 10:34 AM
12

#8 that's Fred Phelps argument already. God hates American because she is tolerant of the mo's.

Posted by monkey | May 21, 2007 10:38 AM
13

Being gay is what kept me out of the Air Force. I really wanted that free college education, but couldn't see hiding myself for 8+ years.
Soon enough though, Bush will be gone, the policy will reverse, and I may be able to get a free gradutate education.

Posted by Enigma | May 21, 2007 10:39 AM
14

exactly! i've found that if you are talking with someone who seriously wants a theocracy, then there isn't much point in attempting to continue the rational dialog. you might try to talk to them about religious freedom (for all religions), or maybe demonstrate how even american's founding wasn't entirely christian or their denomination... but with that type of person you cannot argue gays in the military because the base logic is so far off.

Posted by infrequent | May 21, 2007 10:44 AM
15

#8, you are right. I would add though that the social conservatives also point to the many ills that we currently suffer from in America (crime, drug use, poverty) and say the reason we have these problems is because we allowed "_______" to happen, where "______" is integration, women's equality, etc. Note, I do not agree with these people, but the reason the rants of the social conservatives resonate with so many every time they choose to rant is because THEY believe it. And the Republican party, which thrives on fear, abets them every time. People like to say that the GOP succeeds by scaring us about terrorism. That is only part of it. A still very real part of it is pointing to all of the gays, the brown-skinned people and every other "different" group in the country and saying: "if you don't do this, these people will overrun us." It is clearly an effective tool.

Posted by fribster | May 21, 2007 10:53 AM
16

The reason for most of these sorts of regulations is that a huge percentage of the people who serve in our armed forces are of the Devil-fearing baby-microwaving persuasion, and it is entirely reasonable to assume that, even if they could be restrained from committing hate crimes against queer soldiers, they might still fail to support them in combat.

This is sort of the inverse of another bit of conservative military philosophy, which is that women shouldn't be allowed to serve in combat. The IDF, which is generally very progressive about this kind of thing, has barred women from serving in combat since 1948 because they discovered that male soldiers would compromise combat operations in order to try and rescue wounded female soldiers. So the problem had nothing to do with whether or not women could fight-- it was about the fact that most Israeli soldiers are men of a certain sort, and that those men can't be trusted to serve effectively alongside women.

Or queers.

* obviously I'm not defending this, but I think the basic assumption is accurate and addressing it would require changes in our military system that would be much more far-reaching than the relatively simple question of allowing queers to serve.

Posted by Judah | May 21, 2007 10:55 AM
17

Whenever a necessary social change is proposed, that change is resisted by social conservatives.

Funny thing: that's why they're called 'conservatives'. The word conservative in itself means a slow resistance to change, even a fear of change or doing things differently. It is life through predictable status quo.

Posted by Gomez | May 21, 2007 11:12 AM
18

Also, I love how it took 16 comments before someone mentioned that obvious fact, given so many of you were too busy foaming at the mouth with the usual left-wing wank.

Posted by Gomez | May 21, 2007 11:14 AM
19

And most likely the Social conservatives are going to blame the Cicada( insect brood generation XIII) Brood as some Biblical revelation come to pass. Scientific fact, not just Scientific social issues, which proves that the way things are is just the way things should be, don't mess with mother nature and humans humanity to just fade away. To all conservatives out there and the Nihilists as well, we completed the human evolution and I guess unbeknowedst to you all, we have succeeded where your gods have failed.
Welcome to the 21 st century America. Don't get left behind.

Posted by summertime | May 21, 2007 11:16 AM
20

Here's the thing.

They aren't always wrong. They are in this case clearly as the issue of gay soldiers wasn't an issue at all in WW1 and WW2.

They were right when they said said giving women the right to vote would lead to trouble (Hello prohibition! Hello flappers!), which it did from the average conservative white male perspective. It was of course the right move anyway but social upheaval did follow, the argument of causation vs correlation is valid but wouldn't fit here.

They were right when they said that welfare helped reinforce the cycle of poverty. They were ignoring the fact that unplanned pregnancies were a huge root cause and that they were actively trying to undermine family planning. Should welfare have been eviscerated like it was? No, but elements of it weren't helpful.

They were right when they said you can't always get what you want, that attempts at socially engineering a utopian society lead to disaster.

They block attempts at long term progress by screaming about the short term problems because they're comfortable in the status quo. They'd rather have things not change at all than try to marginally "improve" things.

We should really call them socially lazy.

Posted by dirge | May 21, 2007 11:39 AM
21

oh blahblah to all of you with the time to draft out fully cited seven paragraph rants. there are more urgent issues for the gays than being accepted into one of the world's more backward and harmful institutions (i mean the military, not marriage).

i have to add my two cents though, and say that one of the fabulous things about being gay in 'dont ask dont tell' times is that if ever a draft were introduced, we gays would have an easy 'out', so to speak. i take comfort in that.

Posted by JudithBjini | May 21, 2007 2:40 PM
22

FYI - being color blind is another easy out. If they show you a piece of paper with a bunch of colored dots and they ask you what you see (usually a number or letter) pause for a moment then say all you see are dots.

Posted by elswinger | May 21, 2007 3:56 PM
23

@20,

How was giving women the right to vote related to Prohibition? It was the 18th Amendment that enforced Prohibition. The 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. If anything, it was rural America forcing their morals on the rest of the country that gave us Prohibition. (Why does that sound familiar?)

Posted by keshmeshi | May 21, 2007 4:06 PM
24
How was giving women the right to vote related to Prohibition?

That really is an astounding question. If you honestly don't know the answer-- I mean, if you honestly think that votes for women and prohibition weren't intimately connected political movements --then there's about 50 years of US political history you don't know the first thing about. Just use wikipedia. It should fill in most of the blanks.

Posted by Judah | May 21, 2007 4:42 PM

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