Bil Browning

Lt Gen Claudia Kennedy: Easier to deal with race & gender than sexual orientation in military

Filed By Bil Browning | August 03, 2009 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell, gays in the military, Lori Hahn, Lt Gen Claudia Kennedy, military, women in the military

Lori Hahn (of Hahn at Home fame) has an interview with retired Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy that is definitely worth a read. Hahn, a former military member, served with Kennedy earlier in Kennedy's stellar career. Kennedy retired from her last position as Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence - at that point she was the highest ranking woman ever in the US Army.

The interview is a fascinating glimpse into Kennedy's career and her thoughts on Don't Ask, Don't Tell - including a story about her discharge of a Chinese linguist under the anti-gay policy. A sample of the insights Kennedy shares:

I think it's easier to deal with race and gender than sexual orientation. Because someone who wants to advocate for a minority race sitting as a member of the majority race can still kind of keep their life clear - they're white advocating for (a minority). So they don't have to deal with being brushed with the stigma of race while advocating for another race.

Same with gender. Nobody thinks this man who is a feminist is now going to become a woman, so he doesn't have to be brushed with the stigma of being a woman.

So, then when you take a look at sexual orientation, when a member of a majority group of heterosexuals advocates for homosexuals, they need to be willing to be brushed with the, "Maybe you're a homosexual" stigma. I think that's much harder to do.

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"Same with gender. Nobody thinks this man who is a feminist is now going to become a woman, so he doesn't have to be brushed with the stigma of being a woman."

But, maybe he IS a woman . . . a trans woman.

This is definitely a strong highlight, but I wholeheartedly recommend sitting down with the entire article at AWOP for much more of Claudia Kennedy's thoughtful support in favor of bringing an end to the passive-aggressive Don't Ask Don't Tell policy.

A. J. Lopp | August 3, 2009 1:31 PM

Advocating for the rights of another race is not necessarily easy. There were many white abolitionists in the 19th Century that put their reputations and their lives at risk to speak out against slavery, to operate the Underground Railroad, to conduct uprisings such as Harper's Ferry, and to fight in the Union Army. No need for me to point out that Lincoln himself was assassinated.

OK, so it can be hard --- well, nobody promised it would be easy.

Greetings Bill,

Thanks for helping extend the reach of Lori's interview with Lt Gen Kennedy. People that represent her rank in the military coming out against DADT is a very good thing and needs to be run up the flagpole for all those who stand against us to clearly see. Thanks again for your assistance in helping us at A World of Progress TeamZine do just that.

Kim G.
A World of Progress TeamZine

twinkie1cat | August 4, 2009 2:16 PM

Yes, it is harder. It also is harder to come out as straight in a mostly gay environment. I have been undercover more than once.

There is also, with gay rights the religious stigma that always has to be dealt with. While some people justified slavery by the Bible, with plantation owners even going so far as to form the Southern Baptist Church so they would not have to listen to abolitionists telling them how bad they were, it is easier to justify hatred of homosexuals since many people do not know enough about the Bible to take it in its intended context. You can prove anything with prooftexting. So it looks like you are going against God and the Bible if you support gay rights. And liberals tend to just write it off as jibberish because they don't know any more than the conservatives do.

Of course those of us who are past the "milk" and are chewing on the "meat" of the gospel know better.

But there is too much "whosoever" language in the scriptures to exclude anyone who accepts Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Bible tells us what is right, and excluding the GLBT community from the life of the nation is as wrong as excluding them from church.

Those who stand up for gay rights are the true patriotic Americans because they believe that all "men" are created equal in the eyes of God and our nation. So ensuring that all Americans may serve in the military freely and openly (not drafted which is a form of slavery) is both patriotic and godly.

When you are right, even if it is hard, you must do the right thing, which in the long run is the easy thing because you never have to be ashamed of your actions. Therefore, as representative of the United States of America in all its diversity and with all humans created equal, our military leaders need to get over their insecurity about their own sexual orientation and support the open service of our Gay, lesbian and transgendered Americans (and undocumented people who want to) in the American military. The only time they can have a problem is if they ARE CLOSETED because they are living a lie and fear being found out.

A. J. Lopp | August 6, 2009 1:59 AM
... support the open service of ... ( ... undocumented people who want to) in the American military.

It is good for you, twinkie1cat, to thoughtfully include a mention of the undocumented; however ...

Actually, there is no bar to foreign nationals from signing up with branches of the US military as long as they otherwise qualify (regarding age, physical ability, language proficiency, no serious criminal record, and such). In fact, many Latinos from Mexico, Central and South America, as well as foreign citizens of many other countries, take this route to bypass the long waiting periods and red tape involved in the normal immigration process --- because, if I am not mistaken, once their first enlistment is over, as a reward for their honorable military service they become eligible to go to the head of the line for naturalization.

P.S. It has occurred to me that GLBT citizens in the US could do something converse to protest DADT --- I expect DADT would fall rapidly if large numbers of qualified GLBT Americans were to be discovered by the US brass to be enlisting in the British military (or Australian, Isreali, German, French, and others) which allows gay/lesbian/bi troops to serve openly. (I do not include trans because I am not familiar with the exact policy in each such country.) There is little doubt that that would be a "recruitment drain" that they would not tolerate for very long!

Robert Ganshorn | August 6, 2009 3:19 AM

A great point AJ. I know that American citizens can immediately join the Israeli army and many have as our "unique" relationship with Israel allows dual citizenship.

As to joining a foreign military otherwise the greatest obstacle is serving another country other than our own. Many could though, but I doubt it would be a floodgate.