Over the weekend, Congress passed a historic resolution to finally repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, an A$$-backwards provision, which prohibited gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
The infamous policy was first introduced as a compromise measure in 1993 by former president Bill Clinton, who campaigned to allow gays in the military against heavy opposition from anti-homosexual conservatives in Congress and the military. DADT mandated that military or appointed officials would not inquire or require members to reveal their sexual orientation. But if a gay serviceman or woman came out of the closet, they could face being discharged.
Prior to DADT, those who had been ousted as homosexuals were given psychologist exams to assess their “gayness” and if deemed “curable,” they would be sent for therapy until they were “cured” of their homosexual “tendencies.” If deemed incurable, they would face expulsion or in some cases, sent to military prison.
But after years of resistance, proponents of DADT, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, begun to question the validity of the policy and were now willing to do an about face to say, “why not?”
Fast-forward to present and now the veil of discrimination has finally fallen and just about everyone is welcome to serve in the military. But is it really a cause for rejoicing?
My personal opinion, at best, is complicated; however, folks should not confuse my neutrality as siding with the bigots, who only oppose abolishing “don’t ask, don’t tell” because they find something wrong with homosexuals. I believe that all people are equal, regardless of their sexual orientation, and it was vastly unfair to ask a person to fight for alleged democracy and freedom elsewhere, while denying them their rights in their own country.
However, as someone who is anti-war and anti-expansion of the Department of Defense’s budget in a time where we’re still struggling in the aftermath of a severe economic recession, I do have to wonder if those who fight for equality have been used to pacify the anti-war movement?
In response to dwindling enrollment over the years, the U.S. military has taken drastic steps to beef up the front lines, including relaxing its weight requirements and recruiting heavily in high schools and colleges. It would make sense that at the height of battle in two wars, and with the possible threat of more war on the horizon courtesy of North Korea and Iran, repealing DADT fulfills the armed forces’ need for fresh bodies to join the few, the proud and the brave.
I’m not trying to take the sunshine away from anyone who perceives the repeal of DADT as a victory because I totally understand the hardship that many who currently serve are feeling due to this unnecessary oppression. But anti-war folks such as myself can not shake the belief that repealing DADT is simply a cover up to distract us from the bigger picture.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.