Editors' Note: Guest blogger Edward Falzon is the author of Being Gay is Disgusting, a very tongue-in-cheek (and not literally titled) humorous parody of the first five books of the Bible.
I continue to be surprised at the persistence of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.
Don't get me wrong, I understand why Clinton came up with DADT and took the effort to slip it in, so-to-speak, after his valiant but failed attempt to repeal a complete ban. At least DADT gave gays an opportunity to put their lives on the line for the country that hates them.
The original DADT rule from 1993 is in Defense Directive 1304.26 with the bit against homosexuals right at the bottom - ah, the irony. Interestingly, there are exceptions in the No-Queers-Allowed Directive: If you performed a homosexual act, you can still be accepted into the military, just as long as it was a one-off, you didn't enjoy it, didn't force anyone and and promise not to do it again (palindromic enclosure 22.214.171.124.1).
Section 4 describes the policy of the Department of Defense to refrain from prejudice "based on gender, race, religion or ethnicity [unless they're gay]" and to judge an applicant "on the basis of adaptability, potential and conduct [unless they're gay]." And the enclosure about Moral Character demonstrates that known felons have a better chance to enlist than known gays.
There hasn't been a report to Congress in support of the policy in years, yet Congress still clings to it like Rock Hudson clung to his heterosexuality. In 2007, Gen. John Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs when DADT was adopted, wrote an op-ed piece in full support of a complete repeal of the ban on openly gay troops. The General even cited a meeting he had with an openly gay sailor serving on a submarine, whose gayness didn't result in any, uh, sunk torpedoes.
Later that year, an open letter was signed by 28 retired generals and admirals urging Congress to repeal the ban. In 2008, another similar open letter was signed by over a hundred high-ranked retirees.
Even back in 1993, the House and Armed Services Committee heard expert testimony from Dr. Gregory Herek, a leading psychologist on sexual orientation that gays and straights serving side-by-side would not cause any problems. And he was right: Gays have served openly in Canada, Australia and Israel since around the introduction of DADT in the USA. In these and all other countries that allow open gays to serve, there has been no incohesion, no drop in recruitment, morale or readiness, no orgies in the mess halls.
So, in the face of extensive studies, expert testimonies, recommendations from very senior military personnel and long-standing examples from NATO allies, how on Earth is DADT still law? On top of that, the military's Commander-in-Chief, chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Defense Secretary all want to get rid of the ban. Why isn't Congress listening?
Well, America is religious, and although the Bible mentions homosexuality less frequently than it mentions unicorns, it's on these infrequent verses that many lobbying bodies campaign. Hiding behind phrases like "public advocate" and "family research" perhaps because they poll better than godhatesfags.com, a site proudly owned and run by a Christian church, these organizations, often well-funded by religious organizations and always headed by a conservative Christian, lobby almost exclusively to prevent gays from being considered an equal part of society.
One of the higher-profile pro-DADT lobbies is a group calling themselves the Center for Military Readiness whose founder and leader has never been in the military. While other lobbies wish to "preserve marriage," CMR lobbies Congress and military figures to "preserve readiness." Yes, it seems that combat readiness will immediately decrease if any gay soldiers presently on active duty mention their gayness. Closet gays, apparently, can fire a weapon and work as team-members, whereas open gays cannot. And straights can only work with gays if they don't know for sure that they're gay.
Naturally, the clergy have chimed in on the matter, too - it wouldn't be a matter for the State unless the Church were involved, right? The Southern Baptist Convention has threatened to remove their chaplains if DADT is repealed, on the grounds that they "could lose their freedom to preach and council [read "discriminate"] against homosexuality." Their concern is that they might be prevented from preaching certain passages of the Bible. I wonder if their desire to preach against homosexuality (Lev 18:22) includes preaching that homosexuals should be put to death (Lev 20:13)? If it does, should we not then coach them on tolerance? Or do we say, 'oh, that's their faith' and let them continue preaching?
What if a chaplain councils parents to kill their disobedient child and encourages other service members to assist (Deut 21:18-21)? Do we remove them from their influential position or do we say, 'I respect your beliefs?'
Homosexuality, like eating at Red Lobster (Lev 11:10), is not and has never been a sin. Christians got over the perceived sinfulness of shellfish-eaters; one day they'll get over the perceived sinfulness of gays. Until then, they seem to have plenty of influence on the lawmakers, who know that if they upset 36 million Baptists or 57 million Catholics, their re-election prospects drop considerably.
Meanwhile, there are currently an estimated 65,000 gay folk in the US armed forces waiting for Congress to decree that they are allowed to be themselves. 65,000 'sinful' men and women who love their country so much that they're prepared to hide who they are so they can risk their lives defending your right to abuse them.
God bless America.