The debate about women in combat seems to be over – there are now women serving in the current war in combat roles.
So, when will the debate about gay people be over? Seems like it’s as irrational as the argument over the service of women. In fact, the military seems to contradict itself in times of crisis. Read this interesting editorial in today’s Washington Post:
No Gays Except . . .
Wednesday, March 26, 2003; Page A16
IN THE YEARS since the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy toward gay service members went into effect, the U.S. military has discharged a steadily increasing number of men and women because of their sexual orientations, although they wished to continue serving their country. Then the United States went to war. And suddenly, according to a new report from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), the witch hunts dropped off sharply. In 2001, 1,273 people were discharged for being gay. Last year, by contrast, 906 were discharged. The sharp decline, the SLDN notes, is consistent with the military’s behavior in past wars. When their services are truly needed, it seems, the threat that gay men and lesbians supposedly pose to unit cohesion doesn’t loom as large.
Not all gays in the military are being protected by having skills critical to the war on terrorism or the war in Iraq. We have previously noted the irrational discharges of military linguists who acknowledged being gay. More of these cases, the SLDN report warns, are coming down the pike. But the larger pattern is that tolerance increases as necessity requires. And that would be all for the good if the military would only learn the obvious lesson from it: that gay men and lesbians fight honorably during wartime without deleterious effects on any military effort. That being the case, they should not be drummed out of their positions once the military again has the luxury of indulging this last socially acceptable bigotry. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” works against our military preparedness, is unfair to patriotic Americans and, as a policy, has failed miserably. It must be repealed.
© 2003 The Washington Post Company