Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but Actively Discriminate

It seems that the much longed for repeal of the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy in the USA which stops gay men and women from serving openly in the US army is facing some difficulties. While a court in California is currently trying to decide whether or not the policy is constitutional, it seems that if the DADT policy is going to be repealed, it is not going to be through the Senate, but through a long and difficult judicial process. Because the issue is such an inflamed one, with some people on the right being strongly against gays openly serving in the military, the process would not stop until it came before the Supreme Court. And what would happen there is impossible to say.

Personally, I don't see what the discussion is all about. Yes, DADT is unconstitutional and it is also discriminatory. It is a huge impairment of freedom of speech, which is supposed to be guaranteed in the First Amendment. If a gay person were to come out while employed by the military, he or she would not be allowed to keep his or her job. The only chance for a gay person to keep their job is to hide their identity. It is a situation where they are damned if they do, and damned if they don't.

Furthermore, all American citizens are supposed to be equal before the law. The fourteenth amendment states that:
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
How is it to be equal before the law when you can be discharged for falling in love with the same sex, but you cannot if you adhere to the social norm? This separation has been legal for 17 years. Inequality is, under DADT, institutionalised as well as legalised.

What really baffles me, however, are the arguments for keeping this ridiculous policy in place. NY Times writes:
In comments to reporters in California this weekend, General Amos said that ending the ban in the middle of two wars would involve “risk” for Marines, who, unlike other service members who generally have private quarters, share rooms to promote unity. “There is nothing more intimate than young men and young women — and when you talk of infantry, we’re talking our young men — laying out, sleeping alongside of one another and sharing death, fear and loss of brothers,” said General Amos, 63. “I don’t know what the effect of that will be on cohesion. I mean, that’s what we’re looking at. It’s unit cohesion, it’s combat effectiveness.”
I simply do not understand what the problem is here. A gay man and a straight man sharing quarters? First of all, it would be ridiculous to assume that the gay man would automatically be attracted to the straight man on the basis of they being of the same sex. Arguing that would be just as ridiculous arguing that all men want to have sex with all women or are attracted by all women and vice versa. While I am sure there are some very sexual men and women out in the world, these are the exception, not the rule. All heterosexual men and women are not automatically attracted by each other, so why should all gay men and women be?

Secondly, assuming that the gay man or woman would be attracted by their quarter mate, why would that be a problem? Yes, sure, we all deal with people being attracted by us when we don't reciprocate those feelings, but we deal with them. Sometimes it is uncomfortable, but being adults, we will tell the person that we do not feel the same and then we will put it behind us. One-sided attraction would only be a problem if the person feeling the attraction would not respect the other person turning them down. I sure hope that General Amos doesn't automatically assume that being gay means you have no boundaries, because that would be just as ridiculous as assuming all gay men and women are attracted to each other. Not respecting boundaries is not inherent to homosexuality, otherwise we would not have heterosexual rape or any kind of heterosexual sexual assault, abuse etc.

Third, grown men and women should be able to handle homo and bisexuality. It is not beneficial for an individual or society as a whole to be narrow-minded and adhering to every norm as if they were social commandments written in stone. Without questioning and broadening our views, society will not move forward. It is because we have accepted things outside the social norm that society has been able to progress. Accepting social norms as some kind of unchallengeable truth is not going to achieve anything other than the stagnation of society. We need to continue being humans and bring forward the curiosity and the progressiveness.

Stop being afraid of that which you do not understand. Deal with your fears instead. It is absurd that people, in this day and age, should still be judged on whom they love. After all, it is the love that seems to be a problem here. How can love between two consenting adults be ugly or wrong? I would rather think that it is the hatred and intolerance that is wrong, that distorts society. Stop projecting your fears onto other people. Just deal with it.

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