By Samantha Gillis
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” is a law stating homosexuals are allowed to serve in the military only if they are not open about their sexuality (as in “we won’t ask, but please don’t tell us”). If a homosexual is found they will be discharged.
It is curious how this law came to be. The law was passed under Bill Clinton’s administration in 1993. In a recent interview with Katy Couric, Clinton testifies that DADT wasn’t what he was told it was going to be. At the same time he agreed to it because he states it was a better alternative than an absolute ban on gays serving in the military, which was what the military wanted. In short, it was a compromise. However, Clinton says he thought it only specified about gays not being allowed to march in pride rallies with a uniform or do anything affiliated with homosexuals like going to a gay bar with their uniform on. He also did not believe they would be discharged because of the sexual orientation alone.
Nonetheless, DADT was passed as a lackadaisical compromise to appease the military and politicians. Now that it is 2010, Democrats have regurgitated it up and ask it be repealed. Republicans argue a repeal of DADT would damage morale, and disrupt cohesion. Let’s just think about this.
What are cohesion and morale?
Cohesion: The state or condition of joining or working together to form a united whole.
Morale: The general level of confidence or optimism felt by a person or group of people, especially effects discipline and motivation.
They seem pretty similar, but OK—as devil’s advocate perhaps if a lieutenant came out as a homosexual his lower ranking officer would lose respect for him. That is plausible; mostly because homophobia is still alive and well. When one is fearful of something it is often times because they do not have much, if any, background knowledge about the subject.
To compensate for lack of knowledge, they fill in the gaps with stereotypes. Meaning they might assume things or project stereotypical characteristics on them such as they are a pansy, lackadaisical or for a lesbian she is a “man hater” or heartless. So yes, cohesion would be hindered in this case. Therefore instead of pushing for acceptance and understanding, DADT skirts around that idea and instead opts for an easy way out. Avoid the situation altogether and get rid of the homosexual. Kind of sounds like the illusion of cohesion.
Let’s look at morale. How would an openly homosexual co-worker damage your general confidence and optimism? Well of course if (God forbid) other countries find out we actually allow homosexuals to serve equally in our military ranks, then surely they would look down on us. It wouldn’t matter if the homosexuals were the top of the line soldier, who have dedicated 10 plus years of their lives to serve the country, who sacrificed their lives, their family’s lives, and their future to fight for America. No. That would not matter. All that would matter is who that person wanted to love.
After speaking with my dad, Christopher Gillis, a Lieutenant Colonel who has served in the Air National Guard for 23 years, something became quite clear. We are stuck. Despite the progress and the momentum of the civil rights movement, the feminist movement and equal rights movement. We are stuck. In the same clogged mindset that perpetuates the idea that if someone is not like us, then they are wrong. Leut. Col. Gillis described numerous situations when quality men and women have been let go for only one reason—their sexual orientation. He clarified that DADT “does not maintain good order or discipline. In fact it does more harm than good.” Also, he brought up the point that, over the past 20 years DADT has been enforced there has been millions of dollars poured into investigations, prosecutions and punishment towards finding out if someone is a homosexual. Money he thinks all American’s would agree, could be better spent on creating jobs.
Sometimes it is so difficult to look beyond one’s self to see the other side. Isn’t cohesion and morale being damaged when a man or woman in our armed forces is discharged because of his or her sexual orientation? Doesn’t that strike fear in their fellow soldiers, that no matter how hard you work, if you are found to be gay because you identify yourself as a homosexual, you are tossed out like a soiled rag?
Samantha Gillis is a senior majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail her at email@example.com.