I'd like to start by saying that I have been fascinated with gay rights ever since I got involved in politics. I live in a town where the mayor attracted controversy by performing many same-sex weddings. As someone who was born with a disability, I felt a sort of kinship with people who were also born with something that they couldn't control. I gave money to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and thought that I was giving something to something great and honest, something that was a modern continuation of the civil rights movement. On election night 2009, the loss of gay marriage in Maine was a tremendous blow to me. It was as if the progressive movement that seemed to be going forward suddenly stopped.
Now, I'm more conservative and less naive. After seeing more than the gay left's side of the story on the issues and seeing their movement through outside eyes, I respect it a whole lot less. And I certainly don't see it as a modern continuation of the civil rights movement.
What I want to look at today as an example is the policy forbidding gays to serve openly in the military known as Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
The issue is a tricky and complicated one. There are no easy solutions to it. I can see problems with keeping the ban, but I can also see problems with repealing the ban. And the gay rights movement approaches it from the absolute wrong direction. Here's how their arguments go:
Argument 1: This is for social justice and to end unjust discrimination!
The military doesn't exist as a force for social justice. The military exists to win wars and defend the country. If certain individuals hinder that mission, then too bad. This goes right into their next argument:
Argument 2: This is just like the struggle to integrate the military!
Ah, the civil rights comparisons. To compare this to Truman's order desegregating the military is ridiculous when you look at the context.
First of all, Truman issued his order in peacetime. Not only was no order issued in the middle of WWII, but to change the basic structure of the army in the middle of a war would cause issues, to put it mildly. FDR's advisors said that to challenge segregation in the middle of the war would be foolish and would only serve to weaken the war effort. The US is fighting several wars right now.
Second of all, Truman's order did not end segregation overnight, neither did it force the military to integrate. There were still segregated units fighting in Korea. Finally, racial tension continued to remain a problem in the military for decades after the order was given.
Argument 3: Not letting gays and lesbians serve hurts military readiness!
Riiight. Since DADT was signed into law, there have been roughly 12,000 discharges. Twelve thousand, out of a military with millions of people in it. And of those 12,000, some were undoubtedly those who just wanted to get out and said that they were gay in order to get the boot.
Meanwhile, the same people who claim that not letting gays and lesbians serve openly are hurting military readiness are the same people who claim that too much is being spent on the military, who back chopping down the defense budget by trillions, and who have a low opinion of the military in general. So, you have to wonder how sincere they're being with that claim.
You see what I mean.
In my opinion, the large gay rights organizations oppose DADT not because they want to serve in the military, but they suffer from, to put it bluntly, a "WAAAH, WE'RE NOT ALLOWED IN!" complex. If the ban was repealed, gays would not flock to the army in droves, nor would closeted ones currently in the military come out.
This attitude seems, unfortunately, to extend to other social institutions...