Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Assaulted gay soldier exposes wrong of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

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From an op-ed in the Arizona Daily Star:
Lawson, 19, has asked for a discharge. But until then, he's sleeping on a cot in a drill sergeant's office at the Army's Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista. The multiple levels of error in Don't Ask, Don't Tell illustrated by Lawson's situation begin with the recruitment process. Lawson said he was honest with his recruiter about his homosexuality. The recruiter replied that "everything would be fine" as long as Lawson kept his situation to himself. But everything is not fine, and the Army, despite an official policy, has no way to deal with the open bigotry, sometimes manifested in the violence Lawson experienced, of the rank and file. Instead of coming to the aid of a soldier with a promising military future, it sent him to his drill sergeant's office to sleep. In doing so, it reinforced the wrongheaded and misguided prejudices of anti-homosexual soldiers. Lawson's situation is neither unusual nor new. The policy came from the Bill Clinton administration. It was an attempt to allow gays and lesbians to serve the country while appeasing anti-homosexuals who believe gays have no place in the military. It soon became clear that the policy had evolved into a way to hunt down homosexuals and expel them from the country's military services.
It is time for the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy to go. As Lawson's story so brilliantly points out, the policy is doing more harm than good. At a time when the Military is having so many problems recruiting the sufficient number of people to serve, how does it make sense to be booting people out for no other reason than there sexual orientation? According to the op-ed: "Lawson's story also illustrates the wastefulness of the policy. Those closest to him describe him as intelligent, hardworking and moral. Most of all, he has a desire to be a soldier at a time when the military is having trouble finding recruits." The op-ed also points out that in the first ten years of the anti-gay policy, 9500 soldiers were discharged under it; 300 of those soldiers were "much needed specialists fluent in Arabic, Farsi or Korean, critical languages in today's world." Also, during last year, 900 soldiers reported being physically or verbally abused because of the sexual orientation. The United States needs to get rid of this anti-gay policy. All that it does is re-inforce the anti-gay and homophobic beliefs of soldiers. If there is anything that is causing "low morale" it is this policy. Our soldiers are already serving with gays oversees, as gays can serve openly and honestly in many of our allies' armed forces. It isn't hurting them to work with British gays, or French gays, or Israeli gays... will it hurt them to work with gays from their own country? No. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is just another blantant form of governmentally sponsored and endorsed discrimination. It needs to go. Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,