Sept 30, 2005
Volume 33
Issue 39

Sunday, Jan 26, 2020 02:21

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Lesbian Notions by Libby Post
Dirty Little Secret
The way the military treats enlisted Lesbians and Gays is no better than a man who cheats on his wife while extolling the virtues of marriage and monogamy, sneaking back for more of his mistress when he needs it.

We all know about Dont Ask, Dont Tell, that untenable policy that places each queer military person in a perennial catch-22. I wont ask, you dont tell, but if you tell Ill have to kick you out - except, of course, if were at war. Then, well keep you in, sometimes indefinitely, and stack up your body with the rest of the corpses if you happen to be killed.

Its just sick.

The Pentagon will tell you dont ask, dont tell is their official policy 24/7, 365 days a year. But thanks to the University of California at Santa Barbaras Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military (CSSMM), its now clear thats not the case. In doing research recently for an ABC Nightline story, CSSMM uncovered a hush-hush regulation in the 1999 Reserve Component Unit Commanders Handbook.

Translated into nonmilitary speak, the regulation goes something like this - if someone is about to be discharged because hes queer, but his unit is being called up, the discharge is put on hold and said soldier goes to the front line. And then, of course, if he comes back alive, the discharge process starts, and hes thrown out.

It reminds me of what happened to Gay men who survived the Nazi concentration camps. Liberated, yes, but once repatriated, they were thrown in jail because they were Gay.

While theres not much that can be done about those World War II survivors save for reminding the world of what happened, it is time for Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of the military establishment to wake up and do something about one of the reasons for their dwindling recruitment numbers.

Now, I need to make it quite clear that I dont support the war in Iraq, and I dont wrap myself in the flag praising the virtues of military service. Ive always been a bit conflicted on this issue as it regards the Gay community, because, in fact, Ive never wanted to fight for anyones right to be in the military. But the reality is, there are plenty of us who want to serve, and we should do so without fear of retribution and discharge.

According to a report prepared by the Williams Project at the UCLA School of Law and released in July by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, if the military didnt bother with dont ask, dont tell, it would enjoy 41,000 new recruits. These results were based on an analysis of the service rates of straight men and how they would correlate with the service rates of out Gay men if they were allowed to serve openly.

Since the Pentagon recently admitted it will once again fail to meet its monthly recruiting goal and for the first time since 1999 is missing the mark for the entire year, these 41,000 potential new recruits should be welcomed with open arms. Im sure there are plenty of us who relish the idea of being An Army of One or would love to hear the Air Force say, Weve Been Waiting for You. What patriotic Gay or Lesbian wouldnt want to Accelerate Your Life with the Navy or be one of The Few, The Proud Marines?

Besides, its time for the Pentagon to catch up with public sentiment. This past August, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released a poll of 2,000 people nationwide that revealed 58 percent of us red-blooded Americans, from both blue and red states, either strongly or moderately support Gays and Lesbians serving our country. While this shows a steady increase from previous polls, it is a marked change in the number who oppose Gay service. When asked about this in 1994, 26 percent strongly opposed Gays in the military. That number has dropped to just 14 percent.

In fact, at least six national polls done in the last two years concur and have found that between 58 and 79 percent of the American public believes Gays and Lesbians should serve openly. Even a Fox News poll done in August of 2003 concluded that 64 percent of the public, including 55 percent of the Republicans polled, thought we should be able to serve.

Proud of saying its policy reflects societal sentiment, the Pentagon can no longer pretend to hide behind the publics skirt. And just when did the military ever listen to what the public wanted? If it did, we would have gotten out of Vietnam a lot sooner, and wed be exiting Iraq any day now.

Its time for the Pentagon to stop treating us like its dirty little secret. Everyone knows were there, and more and more Americans think thats just fine.

Whats the military so scared about anyway? If they think were going to make a pass at them in the showers, they shouldnt flatter themselves.

Libby Post is the founding chair of the Empire State Pride Agenda and a political commentator on public radio, the web and print. She can be reached care of this publication or at

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