Monday, May 31, 2010

A thought on DADT

There's been a lot of talk about 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' lately, thanks to the recent Congressional vote. This being Memorial Day, I'd like to share a few thoughts on the subject.

Specifically, I keep hearing misunderstandings about to what repealing DADT means. The core of the issue is this:

Repealing DADT will not allow gay people to serve in a hitherto straight military. Instead, it will merely allow formally closeted gay people to serve openly in the military.

This is a vital distinction, especially in light of some of the bizarre garbage (read at your own risk) that has been written about DADT.

Gay people are serving in the military, and have done so for years. In fact, allowing gays to serve was the entire point of Don't Ask, Don't Tell's creation. It was a compromise, put in place to slightly shield gay people from discovery while still technically not allowing them to serve. (A ridiculous contradiction, of course). In other words, the military in no way thinks that being gay prevents someone from being a good soldier.

Repealing DADT, then, is not really about gay people. After all, a gay person is still the same person, whether they're out or not. It's about straight people's reaction to gay people. It's the Department of Defense saying, "We believe that gay people are fine, but we're not sure about everyone else's response." (I'm simplifying here, of course, but that's the basic issue.)

I've heard any number of people, many of them active or former members of the military, who seem to think that DADT is keeping all gay people out of the military, that letting gay people in will somehow make the military weak, or (like in the article linked above) that there are huge numbers of gay people waiting to assault people, and that DADT is the only thing stopping it.

DADT is not any of this. Its repeal would simply allow gay military personnel to be honest and truthful about themselves.

So, if you know someone (especially a member of the military, as the recent bill relies on a DOD study) who might not understand what DADT is really about, please let them know. Surely the sacrifice - lives, identities, and more - of LGBT servicemembers is worth that much.

(Crossposted on Constant Thoughts)

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