Thursday, February 4, 2010

Gays in the military: what are you afraid of?

I'm feeling a bit ticked off today.

I realize my blog is usually chock full of sarcastic musings about life's everyday issues, and I really try to keep things airy and light. I also attempt to not post every day, as no one really cares to hear my views on a daily basis.

But over the past couple of days, an issue has really struck a chord with me. It all started after I began following the latest developments in the debate over repealing the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. With all due respect to our southern states, I posted on my Facebook status the following:

"It's still illegal to be gay in the military. When did our Congress decide they're still living in 1955 Alabama?"

Naturally, I expected this statement to ignite some reaction among my Facebook friends, but I rather enjoy stimulating some actual thought, rather than telling someone what kind of Starbucks cookie I'm planning to eat at 3:00. I wasn't disappointed.

I received a few "So-and-so likes this" posts and comments of support from my fellow progressives. Then, I was notified of a comment made by an acquaintance of mine who had spent a lengthy stint as an Army officer. Here's what he said:

"Wow. Spend a few years in the military and then tell me your opinion." He followed it up with, "Honestly, only those who have been there, whether homosexual or heterosexual, can discuss this intelligently."

Now my dander was up. He was telling me I can't express a valid opinion on this subject without having worn the uniform. I may have never served in the military, but has he ever been gay? Maybe he'd also like to segregate the troops by race, and put those soldiers in the most dangerous situations, like the Tuskegee Airmen and Japanese-American units faced during World War II. Surely, no civilian, liberal blowhard like myself is qualified to speak out against institutionalized bigotry.

I harbor nothing but absolute respect and appreciation for those who serve our country and have sacrificed so much. And I hold those gay members of our armed forces in even higher esteem, because they risk even more, with the ever-present threat of being "outed" and thereby discharged.

He ended his post by stating that his "problem is with anyone who hasn't served, but who is trying to impose their personal belief on an organization of which they know far too little about."

So, I guess my question to him is this:

What are you really afraid of?

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