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Worry a Day: Are we too stupid to survive? on gays in the military June 23, 2009

Posted by lizrosenberg in Uncategorized.

The Supreme Court refused last Monday to consider a legal challenge to the Pentagon’s bizarre ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy. It worries me that we can still really be this dumb, as a nation.

I don’t see whose business it is, anyway, someone else’s sexuality. But the 1993 law allows the Pentagon to fire anyone in the military who decides TO tell. I agree with former Captain James Pietrangelo who calls this “an absolute travesty of justice” and “rubber stamping legalized discrimination.”

If you follow the logic of the Pentagon here, you have to conclude that there can be no women in the military, either, because the idea is that people are driven so brainless by their own sexuality that they become a danger to themselves and others. Or that there can be no true comradery where there is also sexual attraction. Or that people lose their identity as a group where there is sexual tension.

Sexuality is part of normal adult life. If anything, it makes us sharper, funnier, braver, more alive and alert. The most dysfunctional social groups I know are same-sex heterosexual groups. I’m not talking about an all-women’s book club, I mean for instance all women in a medical office working day after day. Or all guys working on a construction site. You want to see some seriously bizarre behavior, take a look at some grownups who never even get to TALK to anyone of the opposite sex.

There’s a famous scene in The Iliad where Achilles becomes an insane fighting machine to avenge the death of his beloved/friend Patroclus. Or think of the courage of Jonathan and David. If the ancient Greeks and the Bible were smart enough to make these connections, why are we such dunderheads? My husband would fight harder to protect me than almost anyone or anything else on earth. Love does not make us weaker, it makes us stronger. Besides, I don’t believe soldiers whose lives are at stake are worrying about each other’s sexuality.  I don’t think we as civilians can begin to understand the comradery and the bond that exists under such duress.

More than 70% of military personnel say they feel comfortable in the presence of gay personnel. The American public feels about the same.  A poll conducted in May 2005 by the Boston Globe showed 79% of participants having nothing against openly gay people from serving in the military. In a 2008 Washington PostABC News poll, 75% of Americans – including 80% of Democrats, 75% of independents, and 66% of conservatives – said that openly gay people should be allowed to serve in the military. Even the most conservative groups now favor that idea. A May 27th 2009 Gallup poll showed 69% support across the board. — As with most highly-charged issues, maybe we should just put it to a national referendum & be done with it.

The Clinton presidency was over as soon as he lost the battle over gays in the military. The whole edifice began to sag. You can’t take the moral high ground and then sink it. This is a civil rights issue, and it matters as all civil rights issues profoundly matter. This brings out our secret predjudices about gay and lesbian Americans, our distrust of them, and by extension, of ourselves. Obama is capable of going to the military and working this out. That’s why we elected him Commander in Chief.



1. Matthew Piaker - June 23, 2009

Well, at least one email recipient has read it, so, no worries. My reaction as I navigated your new website…”Ooh…you have a blog!” Now, you just have to keep filling it up. But don’t worry about it!
You do know the origin of the word “blog”, don’t you? I recently read that the English language is officially up to one million words. I suppose words like “blog” helped get it over that milestone. So…the word “blog” is a short-hand version of the words “web log”. Like two syllables is simply way too long now that we are in the twenty-first century and people tweet and twitter…
All my best,

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