March 6, 2009

A Case in Backward Thinking: The U.S. Military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy

I recently came across an enlightening little morsel while reading Portland's Willamette Week. Of course, by "enlightening," I actually mean "apalling." And by "morsel," I actually mean "absurdity." In 2006, the U.S. Military discharged 612 troops due to its "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which was actually a 12-year low over the life of the policy. (The policy, crafted by then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell, was introduced in 1993 as a compromise measure after President Clinton had previously campaigned on a platform to end discrimination by sexual orientation in the military). Over the life of the policy, over 12,000 troops have been dismissed from all branches of the military as a result of disclosure of homosexuality.

Now, here's the kicker. By contrast, from 2003-2006, the U.S. Military allowed
4,230 convicted felons to enlist under the "moral waivers" program, which enables otherwise unqualified candidates to serve. In 2006 alone, the military granted waivers for 1,605 convicted felons.

I have no problem with the military granting waivers to *certain* convicted felons to serve our country. In fact, I think it presents a tremendous opportunity for those whose behaviors have been a detriment to society to rehabilitate themselvelves and contribute to the common good. But it seems glaringly ridiculous and absurd that our political leaders see homosexuals as more of a threat to the integrity of the military than convicted felons.

Germane to this topic is the fact that neoconservative political policies have left our military overextended, charged with policing and rebuilding two Middle Eastern nations while attempting to snuff out and abate the threat of terrorism. I would think the military could use all the enlistees it can get at this time rather than discriminating on the basis of any metric other than character, patriotism, and fitness to serve.

1 comment:

Nikos said...

As long as they have my back I'll have theirs (no pun intended)

But seriously if a person is willing to throw their life on the line for this country they should be able to; however I feel that by highlighting ones personal life and sexuality is only grounds to problems. In any situation there is always a bad apple who will spoil the bunch, with both straights and gays.