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March 16, 2007
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Volume 35
Issue 11
 
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Tour De Life by Beau Burriola
Nobody asked you, General
by Beau Burriola - SGN Contributing Writer

"I believe that homosexual acts between individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts." In a newspaper interview this week, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, opened his mouth and stuffed in a whole locker full of combat boots. By uttering the word "immoral" not once, but twice, in a mindless, ignorant rant, General Pace showed he doesn't think much before acting. That's an awfully dangerous trait for a man so high up in the command chain.

While the General was so freely expressing his opinions to a reporter, tens of thousands of homosexual service members were enjoying an evening of far less freedom. Many of them are in the same mortal danger as their heterosexual (or, according to the General, more "moral") counterparts, dodging bullets and roadside bombs that the General doesn't have to. While General Pace was busy invalidating an entire group of his armed forces by expressing his very public disapproval of their personal lives, those same people were risking their lives for a war they may or may not agree with. Not only unable to speak their minds on the subject of being Gay, many find themselves having to listen to the ignorant, offensive, tired, and unsolicited opinions of their commanders.

What makes General Pace expressing his opinion different from any other person expressing his opinion is the fact that he is a commander in uniform restricted by "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The delicate balance of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has created a world of discomfort for everyone. Commanders aren't supposed to ask, service members aren't supposed to tell, and all disagreements on all sides are kept out of the discussion with a mind-numbing silence. When that silence is broken - when the service member admits to being a homosexual or wears his Gay pride flag on his uniform, or when the commander goes digging through the service member's porn drawer or espousing his personal views about how Gays are "immoral" - that balance is disrupted.

That a general, and indeed that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, didn't have the foresight to see his role in the enforcement of the policy shows just how weak a policy it is and how short-sighted the leaders are. If those charged with keeping the delicate balance of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" can't do it with any degree of success, how can all of the commanders down the reporting line be expected to do any better? General Pace's expression of his "personal moral views" is no less a violation of the policy than GI Joe walking into the barracks with his boyfriend's arm locked in his. Nobody asked, but he told, and the balance is disrupted.

Since nobody can seem to keep their silence, since hundreds of people are kicked out of the service for being Gay, and since the commanders have shown time and again how one-sided "Don't Ask" is, it's time to admit that the policy isn't working. It's time for Congress to eliminate the policy altogether. It's time to protect every American willing to risk their lives for their country. Until then, let the commanders of the United States Armed Forces follow the same rule every Gay person in the service has to follow: if anyone asks, just keep it to yourself.

"You know what I think the Army's actually afraid of? A thousand Gay guys with M16s going, 'Who'd you call a faggot?' " -- Jon Stewart.

Beau Burriola is a militant Queer veteran. E-mail him at: beaubrent@gmail.com
visit Beau at www.beaubrent.com

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