Gays: Keepin’ the Dream Alive

It is deja vous all over again. And again. Last year, we replayed President Bill Clinton’s support of gay men and women in the military, and we are replaying last year’s efforts again this year.

The story of lifting the ban and allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the armed forces is a tale of woe bordering on the absurd. At the same time, both sides’ arguments have merit. This emotionally charged controversy is not without its costs.

The Pentagon soon will make its latest recommendations to Congress.  (How many ways can one slice this thing?) We will hear the most recent set of great ideas as Defense Secretary and Occasional Superhero Robert M. Gates tries to appease the president, the service chiefs and anyone with a dog in this fight.

There has been talk of a phased approach, but it appears Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway may be driving this train. His direct statement remains unchanged, “Our Marines are currently engaged in two fights, and our focus should not be drawn away from those priorities.” (‘Nuf’ said.) As a follow-on the Marine Corps released, “When the time is right, we have full confidence that we will be asked to provide the best military advice concerning the readiness of the Corps as it relates to this issue.” (Read: Go away. Leave us alone. We’re busy.)

The topic of gays in the military has been in and out of the spotlight since 1993, when males recoiled, fearful of being sexually assaulted by gay males. (Explaining that sexual assault is a crime was lost on this crew.) Seventeen years later, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell remains a polarizing policy. Phased approach? They’ve had 17 years to work this out.

It may, in fact, be as simple as no one wanting to deal with “it”. As many may have deduced, this is not so different from the desegregation of the Armed Forces after World War II (before landmark civil rights legislation) and allowing girls in the regular force tree house. Were leaders so concerned about assaults on Blacks or women? (Probably not.) Both groups were used (no matter the personal damage) for a greater good.

An interesting piece in the New York Times by one male Army captain telling the story of another (West Pointer) who is being tossed for his sexual preferences is worth the read. We were surprised to see the issue of male-male consensual relations within the Army discussed. Though this story of homosexual betrayal has little bearing on this odd little war, it discusses behaviors and consequences many may not have considered.

There are costs to everyone.

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