Thank you for checking out my blog. To submit comments, click on "COMMENTS" at the end of each post. To email a post to a friend, click the white envelope also at the end of each post. Contact Me

TO ADD YOUR BLOG HERE - Click the "Follow This Blog" on the right.

TO SUBSCRIBE - Click a subscription option on the right.

TO READ PAST POSTINGS - Scroll down to my "Blog Archives" on the right or enter a search word or phrase in the search box above.

July 13, 2009


In an excellent article published yesterday in Monterey County's (CA) The Herald, a powerful contrast was drawn between the countries that have allowed gay service members to serve openly for years and the United State's persistent and harmful Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy.

Since 1994, the most recent accounts have stated that more than 13,500 US service men and women have been discharged just for being gay. That includes dozens of Arabic linguist who were critical to the success of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and who the military admits were vital because of the difficulties of finding qualified replacements.

Contrast that to England where gay and lesbian service members proudly marched in uniform in the annual London Pride Parade this July 4th. Or to Australia where soldiers and sailors had their own float in Sydney's Gay Mardi Gras parade. Or to Israel, which is acknowledged to have one of the fiercest and best trained militaries in the world, where the army's own magazine earlier this year featured two male soldiers on the cover, hugging one another.

One of the arguments for keeping DADT in place has always been that allowing gays to serve openly would severally harm unit morale and cohesion. Another, more recent argument is that it would hurt recruitment efforts and drive scores of active duty personnel out of the military completely. But others see it differently...

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, the first Iraq war veteran elected to Congress, has just launched a campaign for a bill to repeal "don't ask, don't tell." He observed British troops in Iraq operating smoothly with a serve-openly policy and bristles at the contention that America's armed forces would suffer morale and recruiting problems if they followed suit.

"I take it as a personal affront to our warriors," said the Pennsylvania Democrat. "To say that other countries' soldiers are professional enough to handle this and American soldiers aren't is really a slap in the face."

In Israel where gays and lesbians have been proudly serving since 1993 (the same year DADT was approved), the open policy is now considered "thoroughly uncontroversial." In fact, their army recognizes the partners of gay officers as their bereaved next-of-kin after their deaths, eligible for the same benefits straight officer's next-of-kin receive. At promotions and other ceremonies, gay officers often have their partners by their sides.

I do understand that in this country, where homosexuality is still a hot button issue primarily because of the intrusive and manipulative tactics of some of the more fanatical religions, transition to an open military would be a little more problematic. BUT, it would be no more difficult than the readjustment the military had to go through when blacks were allowed to serve as integral parts within all units of the military.

It would be now, as it was then, up to the generals, commanders and sergeants to make sure that the transition is handled professionally. I agree with Representative Murphy, to think that this country's service men and women are incapable of doing what many of our allies have already done is a very big slap in the face to them.

It's long past time to get over this and move on.

According to a list compiled by the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the following countries allow gays to serve openly in their militaries:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Uruguay.

Also today, Jason Bellini reported in the Daily Beast that New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand intends to introduce an amendment that would put an 18-month moratorium on the discharge of gays serving in the military.

This would give congress time to work out the details of repealing DADT without harming the reputations of any more patriotic gay American soldiers. It would also be the first time since 1993 that senators will be forced to declare their position on the gay ban.

BTW - the latest discharges under DADT are West Point graduate and Iraq war veteran, Army National Guard Lt. Dan Choi, and a veteran of combat missions over Iraq and Afghanistan, Air Force Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach.