By a vote of 65 – 31, the Senate yesterday passed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. While it won’t be official for 60 days after the President signs it into law, it means an end to gays and lesbians having to hide their true identities and means they will no longer be automatically discharged if their secret is discovered. And while many on the right, including some of my good friends, disagree with me, I personally feel it’s about time. I also don’t believe the “transition” will be as disruptive to the military as some might think.
I can see how there could be problems if an openly gay man (or woman) makes a statement of his/her sexuality in Basic Training, where men and women are in the most tight quarters (in large groups) and showers are shared. Heterosexual people might not be open to sharing a shower with someone they know is gay and is openly flaunting it. But my guess is that won’t be much of a problem in Basic Training and after that, showers are basically private. And while you can’t always pick your roommate in technical school and/or afterward, sharing a room with a gay person doesn’t mean they’re going to hit on your or rape you in the middle of the night.
I shared a room for about three weeks with a gay man when I was stationed in Germany. It was fairly obvious he was gay but he kept to himself and never once was there a problem. I also had several gay men who worked for me. Eventually they were discovered and discharged but while they were there they were hard workers, dependable and loyal, to their duties and their country. Never once did their sexual orientation interfere with their duties.
I find it interesting that only 8 Republicans voted to repeal the law although the names of those eight don’t surprise me at all. Most of them have voted with the Democrats on many things, to the ire and disgust of their constituents. However, the partisan vote in this election shows that many Republicans opted to take the “moral high ground” without truly understanding the big picture.
Gays and lesbians have been serving in the military since there was a military. For most of these years they simply had to hide it and keep it quiet. In the last 30 years or so it has become more commonplace for gays and lesbians to be out of the closet, while maybe not serving openly. Many have been well known but simply left alone unless they did something that truly became a problem or an embarrassment to their unit. That was the case when I was in. Most of the gay men were known to all (not in the Biblical sense) but unless they became annoying or openly promiscuous, they were left alone.
The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is a long time coming and mark my words, with very few exceptions, it won’t change a thing as far as the military goes. There will be some people, mostly hard-headed, macho men, who have a difficult time adjusting. To the majority it will simply mean they don’t have to keep quiet about their friend because he now won’t be discharged for who he is. Risking your life in service to your country shouldn’t be a heterosexual privilege only. If you’re willing to die to protect the freedoms we have in America, why should we care who you sleep with?