While we often differ from other gay groups in the language we use and the policies we propose, we stand united with them (as I would assume do most gay people) in our opposition to the military’s Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (DADT) policy. Quoting a friend of mind, I have called that policy, “One of the great injustices and follies of our time.” We believe, along with many straight hawks (e.g., milblogger, Uncle Jimbo) that gays should be allowed to serve openly in the U.S. armed forces.
As we read of gay linguists, particularly those fluent in Arabic, being dismissed at a time when knowledge of that language is key to securing our nation, it becomes increasingly clear how damaging this policy is. It deprives our military of a pool of committed patriots who want to serve and have skills needed to defend our nation.
Today, Glenn Reynolds links an article about four openly gay North Carolina students who staged a sit-in out the Army Recruiting Center in Greensboro, not a sit-in as staged by all too many students at such locales over the past thirty years or so, to protest the military, but instead to protest its DADT policy. These good people are protesting not because they loathe the military, they are protesting because they love it. They want to serve.
As Matt Hill Comer, an openly gay sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro put it, “I knew if the military were to accept me, I’d have a good possibility of going to Iraq or Afghanistan… In the end, I decided I love my country enough to defend it.” He’s willing to risk his life because of his love for his country.
Instead of focusing on “marriage equality,” which the American public does not yet seem ready to embrace, perhaps gay groups should change their focus to press Congress to repeal this great folly of our time. As we frame it in terms of such proud patriots as Matt Hill Comer, we show that, while we differ from the norm in America, we love our country and our proud of its military.
This would show our fellow citizens that gay people no longer see ourselves as part of a counterculture; gay people do not seek to undermine our society’s institutions, instead we wish to be part of the mainstream, willing to defend our great nation and its institutions, including the military. In advocating repeal of DADT, we show our commitment to the War on Terror, that many gay people wish to serve. And if gay people can serve openly, the military will have broader pool from which to draw new recruits.
The campaign alone to repeal the ban — if framed properly — could accomplish much even if we fail to change minds of our federal legislators. And as this campaign would show gay people in a better light, it may cause some social conservatives to reconsider their opposition to state recognition of same-sex unions and even to gay marriage.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com