Thursday, August 09, 2007

Don't ask, don't tell, fourteen years later

"Attitudes on Gays in Military Shifting" says today's L.A. Times, reporting on something a lot of us have known for a while:

"Just like in the general population, there is a generational shift within the military," said Paul Rieckhoff, a former Army platoon commander in Iraq who is now executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a group largely composed of younger retired soldiers. "The average 18-year-old has been around gay people, has seen gay people in popular culture, and they're not this boogeyman in the same way they were to [Joint Chiefs chairman, Marine General] Pete Pace's generation."

I remember in 1993 when President Clinton was talking about dropping the ban on gays and lesbians in the military, I was one of those conservatives who was completely incensed. The following year I retaliated by going out and voting for every Republican name I saw on the ballot for the '94 midterm elections, regardless of who they were. Apparently I wasn't the only one.

Now fourteen years later . . . well, what a difference fourteen years makes. Isn't it time we drop this ridiculous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy from the military, which ironically, thanks to Clinton, is now encoded in U.S. law? If gays and lesbians want to fight for their country, and the generation of straights who serve alongside them doesn't care about their sexual orientation, then what's the point?

DADT only serves to conceal the fact that so many gays and lesbians are currently risking their lives for our national security, which enables us to continue indulging in stereotypes of them as morally perverse people who are incapable of embracing ideals such as courage, honor and duty to country, so that we can in turn justify enforcing DADT since we can assume other servicemen and -women hold to the same stereotypes, which DADT helps to perpetuate. Makes sense, doesn't it?