Friday, February 05, 2010

Gays in the Military

Cassandra at Villainous Company quotes Colin Powell on Dont Ask, Don't Tell: Colin Powell on DADT: Then and Now, then offers some comments of her own.

[In testimony before Congress on gays in the military], I said, “I think it would be prejudicial to good order and discipline to try to integrate gays and lesbians in the current military structure.” Congresswoman Pat Schroeder quoted a 1942 government report and claimed that the same arguments used then against racial integration in the military were being used against gays today.

She had her logic wrong. I responded, “Skin color is a benign, nonbehavioral characteristic. Sexual orientation is perhaps the most profound of human behavioral characteristics. Comparison of the two is a convenient but invalid argument."
His words bear repeating. They also deserve an honest attempt to grapple with the inconvenient truth he wasn't afraid to speak when he wasn't swimming against the tide of public opinion. Human sexuality - whether female or male, heterosexual or homosexual - is a fundamental and extremely powerful driver of human behavior. To elide past this basic truth requires an almost willful act of blindness.

My own opinions about both women and gays openly serving in the military have undergone a radical shift during the last thirty years. I began by seeing no reason why both women and gays shouldn't be able to serve anywhere they wished to. What changed my mind over the years, contrary to the bigoted assertions of close minded individuals who refuse even to entertain ideas that challenge their world view, was not misogyny or fear of Teh Gay.

It was over 30 years of observing real human behavior. What changed my mind was repeated demonstrations of a basic fact: in real life (which is a very different realm from the utopian, best case scenarios of would be reformers), people don't always behave well. And though most people are good, decent, and responsible it takes only a small number who behave otherwise to cause significant problems for the rest of us.
What is so bizarre to me about the arguments of those who don't even want to discuss the real life consequences of having gays serve openly in the armed forces is that they insist that considering anything but the best case scenario is de facto bigotry. But their fear fueled name calling doesn't stand up to close inspection. There are rational objections to allowing gays to serve openly and they aren't based on the assumption that homosexuals behave differently than heterosexuals. They are based on the assumption that gays are no different from you and me. How is that bigotry?
Any company or battalion commander could tell you that disciplinary issues related to sex have a significant impact on unit morale and readiness.

And this occurs even though men and women do not share the same quarters.

Which raises an interesting question. If we take the non-bigoted approach and assume that homosexuals have the same drives heterosexuals do; assume they are no more likely to act on these drives, but no less likely either; if we assume they are just like us; is it not reasonable to predict a similar increase in rape accusations and allegations of sexual harassment, fraternization and adultery?

Again, these assumptions are not based on demonization of gays, nor upon the assumption that they are less moral or dedicated that heterosexuals. They are based on the assumption that, in the aggregate, gays are every bit as moral and dedicated as heteros but also that the same temptations and weaknesses that cause discipline problems when men and women are in close quarters would be present when billeting men and women who are sexually attracted to their own sex together.

This is not fear. It is not homophobia. And it is certainly not hatred or bigotry. It is common sense.

For Reference:

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