Saturday, March 14, 2009

Time to face reality on Don't Ask, Don't Tell

This January, the Army fired 11 people. Why? Because they were gay. Think about that. In a time when we are fighting two wars, when our armed forces are spread thin, when we are having to stop-loss the folks who should be coming home, the US government is looking at people who want to serve and have been serving and saying, "Uh...yeah. I'm gonna have to let you go because of bullshit, ridiculously discriminatory political compromise. Thanks but no thanks for putting your life on the line."

Seriously, how stupid is this policy? Supposedly, President Obama's administration has begun consulting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, on how to lift the ban. Since 1997, we have lost 10,000 service members to this nonsense. Who could possibly justify this thing now? I thought we had a war on terror to worry about. What Republican is gonna get on the floor of Congress and argue for what is nothing other than blatant discrimination?

It's been pretty obvious how impotent the religious right has started to become. Even Republicans are ignoring them, just take a look at how hard they tried to generate a controversy and block President Obama's Deputy AG David Ogden. It's like no one even paid them any attention. Benen points out that while that is partly a natural occurrence with the shift in power from Republicans to Democrats, it seems to be a little more than that. I think its obvious to Republican lawmakers that people are sick of the religious right's constant crying wolf over everything.

I think it's time to scrap this policy. If anyone in Congress wants to take it on, let's have some hearing on it. I'd love to see some these opponents sit there and try to tell someone like Jeff Howe how he is not fit to wear the uniform.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Jeff Howe was working in Silicon Valley as a marketing
executive and feeling unfulfilled. The attack prompted a lot of soul-searching,
and, at the age of twenty-nine, despite having been out for 8 years, he made the
decision to join the Army. At the end of 2002, he signed up for two years,
deciding, "It would just be like working at a place where I'm not out. I can
keep it to myself. To do an honorable thing, I can keep my sexual orientation a

Howe's unit was in Iraq, where he served on the front line, until the
spring of 2004. He received five commendations for his service, including the
Army Service Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on
Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal and the Fort Riley "Blue
Chip Soldier" Award. When he returned to the States, he felt satisfied with
having fulfilled his two-year commitment.

Then, in September of that year, with only weeks to go, Howe was
stop-lossed, and sent back to Iraq for a second tour. When he arrived in Iraq in
January 2005, he set up a blog.
"I posted every day from January to July,"
Howe said. "It was like a newsletter to my friends and family, nothing
political. The company commander approved everything before it was posted."

In July, some of the unit's trucks were hit with enemy rockets. His
company commander told Howe to take pictures and post them on his blog. When the
brigade commander was told about the posted pictures, he balked, feeling the
pictures would hearten the enemy. Howe was ordered to delete his blog. Quickly
thereafter, a background investigation was started to see if Howe had terrorist

In the course of the investigation, military investigators discovered
an online profile in which Howe had identified himself as gay.

"They started separation proceedings immediately," Howe said

Wake up to the 21st Century. Remember what President Obama said when he assumed the office: America is ready to lead again.

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