Bit of a Stir

By lex, on May 12th, 2010

In the milblogosphere, as some of the game’s heavy hitters write an open letter to Congress on the repeal of “don’t ask/don’t tell.”

JOINT STATEMENT FROM MILITARY BLOGGERS                            12 MAY 2010

We consider the US military the greatest institution for good that has ever existed. No other organization has freed more people from oppression, done more humanitarian work or rescued more from natural disasters.  We want that to continue.

Today, it appears inevitable to us that the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and law restricting those displaying open homosexual behavior from serving will be changed.  And yet, very little will actually change.  Homosexuals have always served in the US Military, and there have been no real problems caused by that.

The service chiefs are currently studying the impact and consequences of changing the DADT policy, and how to implement it without compromising the morale, order and discipline necessary for the military to function. The study is due to be completed on Dec. 1st. We ask Congress to withhold action until this is finished, but no longer.  We urge Congress to listen to the service chiefs and act in accordance with the recommendations of that study.

The US Military is professional and ready to adapt to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell without compromising its mission.  Echoing Sec. Def. Gates and ADM Mullen, we welcome open and honorable service, regardless of sexual orientation.

I was dimly aware of this swirling around in back channels, but declined to participate personally. For one thing, I don’t take myself all that seriously as a voice for, well: Anyone but myself.  Which is not the same as saying that Matt , Uncle Jimbo, et al are taking on airs, or any of that. I’m just not much given to writing “open letters” to self-important people and expecting it to make much of a difference one way or the other. I don’t do theater.

Second, I no longer have skin directly in the game, so I feel a little reluctant taking stands – no matter how brave – that don’t personally affect me.

(One of my son’s best friends from his middle school days discovered during high school that he was gay. The young man and SNO are still close friends, and he has many times stayed with us and dined at our table since coming out. He’s a fine young man, and I am sympathetic to what he went through growing up and coming out in a traditional family in a largely rural region. Also, I can trust him around my daughters.)

So I suspect that my son’s generation of officers will take this a grunch more blithely than I would have done back in the day (although my own feelings have evolved changed since then). But I certainly don’t want to speak for them.

Finally, the statement has an air – at least to me – of rolling over,  of putting the best face on and so on. As a son of the south, I’ve never had a problem being on the side of lost causes and as a generally conservative soul am quite happy to stand athwart history uselessly hollering “Stop!” Again, not to second guess anyone else’s choices, but I don’t bow gracefully to the inevitable.

Our forces have a pretty phenomenal game going on, and I’ve never been one to mess with success. Not all change is progress, and there are always second and third order consequences in retrospect that were never quite clear at the outset.

This has been cast as an issue of  “fairness,” and civil rights, etc. When I raised up my right hand and swore the oath of office, nobody clapped me on the shoulder and promised that it was going to be fair. We routinely discriminate against the vertically challenged, the hyperglycemic and the chronically overfed, to name just three otherwise protected classes. Finally, the military exists to defend democracy, not necessarily be full participants in it. With the privilege of service comes certain obligations.

So while I heartily congratulate those who have clarified their opinion on this matter and hope that they are right in their evaluation of the impact of DADT’s repeal, I decline to personally participate in it.


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