Thursday, May 27, 2010

Don's Ask, Don't Tell

Don't Ask, Don't TellImage by Umpqua via Flickr
The House and Senate are currently debating the repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy of gays serving in the United States military.  When first passed and signed into law by the Clinton administration, it ended the absolute ban of gays in the military.  It was a pretty significant first step for gay rights in the military, though openly gay individuals still could not serve.

Now, I for one, am a big supported of those fine men and women that serve our country through military service.  I greatly admire their discipline and bravery.  At the same time, I like to consider my views to be "gay friendly."  I have said a few times that I don't really an issue with gay couples marrying.  Likewise, I feel if a gay individual wanted to serve our country through military service, then there is no higher calling they could take.

Now the current bills being debated in the House and Senate, are more a less a compromise legislation.  While the legislation would end the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, the implementation of the new legislation would take place at the discretion of the military, pending a current review by military leaders in how to implement the new rules.  Many conservatives are against the legislation because they feel it could be harmful to morale.

I have never served in the military, so I can't say how having an openly gay soldier in a barracks would impact morale.  That is for the military to determine.  I have, however, spent time in locker rooms throughout my life, whether it be gym class or participation in sports.  Unfortunately, I have seen the impact of homosexuals or homosexual activity can have in a locker room.  (No, I didn't see two guys going at it in the shower.)

Years ago, a couple of classmates were discovered participating in homosexual activities while on a Boy Scout camping trip.  I do not recall what they did, nor do I recall if they were gay or a couple young guys experimenting.  Needless to say, word of their extra curricular activities spread through school rather quickly.  One of the individuals happened to be in my gym class.  Also in the class was a member of the school wrestling team.

The wrestler approached the young man and confronted him about the incident.  He pushed him against a locker and basically laid down the law, at least according to him.  He told him he could not be in the locker room while the rest of us were changing or showering.  The poor kid was cowering against the locker.  I kind of felt sorry for him at the time, but I could not bring myself to come to his defense, lest I be labeled "one of them."  No excuse, but I was an insecure teen at the time, and the wrestler was a pretty tough guy.

Granted this incident happened when we were in our early teens.  One would like to think that individuals would take a more mature attitude as they grow older.  I have not found that to be the case.  I have know guys in their 20's who went out of their way to pick fights with gays.  Having openly gay soldiers living in a barracks situation could definitely give rise to tensions.   There is an old military saying that says there are no atheists in foxholes.  I would think in the heat of battle, one wouldn't care whether their soldier fighting by their side was gay so long as they had their back. 
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