Saturday, July 16, 2011

From My Balcony

It’s an interesting day as much has changed over the past 24 hours…a year older and yet, maybe, only a bit wiser…surrounded by many..and still very much an island unto oneself.  
I am sitting here reading about what is going on in the world today; the National debt; the Tour De France; major drug bust in Mexico (really…Mexico…who would have thought?) and a host of other things that make us all wonder just what the hell is going on in the society we live in. I have never been an individual who was big into politics although I do follow national as well as international issues and consider myself well versed in each. One topic for debate that is going to grab the national spotlight is “gays in the military” and if you think that this is a minor issue then, seriously…you really are politically naïve.  
Yesterday, a San Francisco federal appeals court ordered the military to temporarily continue the controversial policy (known simply as don't ask, don't tell) against the wishes of the Obama administration. The order is the latest twist in the legal limbo gay service members have found themselves in as the policy is fought in the courts simultaneous to its slow dismantling by the federal government...which expects to do away with it by later this year. In its three-page ruling, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the ruling was based on new information provided by the federal government, including a declaration from Major General Steven A. Hummer, who is leading the effort to repeal the policy.The court of appeals had halted "don't ask, don't tell" July 6 but the Department of Justice filed an emergency motion Thursday saying ending the policy now would pre-empt the orderly process for rolling it back, per a law signed by President Barack Obama in December. The ruling was supported by Service-members United, an organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, but the group's executive director Alexander Nicholson voiced frustration over the slow process "that has become absolutely ridiculous," ... "It is simply not right to put the men and women of our armed forces through this circus any longer."
I have to say…he is right! 
Now I know some of the readership of this esteemed blog will undoubtedly ask “why are we discussing this?” and to be quite frank….because it’s important!  Not to mention my dinner counterparts several evenings ago broached the topic with me on how “un-progressive” the US appears to be in these matters!

Really…are you kidding me? that even a word??

For the record I support the repeal of DADT…I think a "progressive nation" such as ours has to adapt to the 21st century and all that it entails. Just like tactics, modern militaries adapt and evolve over time and with DADT there should be no exception.

Now please understand that I am not advocating having openly gay men (or women) parading around the barracks in drag and nor am I going to necessarily tolerate “couples” at the Army Ball or the Marine Corp gala in Washington DC … at least not yet…but as a former service member who has stood side by side with soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines in some very caustic scenarios I can tell you that like skin color, sexual preference means NOTHING when you are dodging bullets or closing with and destroying the enemy.  You only care if that person is qualified and competent in the execution of their duties…PERIOD!
I find it egregious that many of the opponents of a full repeal of DADT have either never served or are too old to pick up a weapon and head down to the recruiters office!  Most are too old to fully understand the younger generations who serve today and are too limited in their strategic thought!

In the movie ‘A Few Good Men” Jack Nicholson ask Tom Cruise a series of questions while he is on the witness stand and it’s these questions that I think are highly relevant to this argument…”Have you ever served in a forward area?”…”Put your life in another man hands…and ask him to do the same?”  The discussion goes on and on but you get the point…orientation aside when you are serving in the Armed Forces it’s all about competencies and the manner in which you perform your duties. Taken in context the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is broad enough to handle a transition once the repeal of DADT takes place and will always ensure the maintenance of good order and discipline…and so we won’t have drag queens serving on the front lines…or in the rear for that matter (I know…no pun intended!)  
In the end (ok…enough) cooler heads will prevail and the current administration will have achieved a level of success both operationally (Osama, return from Iraq, etc) and organizationally with this repeal. It’s the right thing to do not only for the men and women that it will affect but also for good order and understanding. The military represents the best of what America has to offer and will make this transition with little or no additional fanfare once DADT is repealed. Suffice to say that some of the individuals who are currently serving on active duty, the National Guard or the Reserve Forces will still not “come out of the closet” based on personal issues or fear or other concerns…that is their call however I feel that with the caliber of junior leader quickly ascending the ranks don’t be surprised when you hear about a Distinguished Service Cross or Bronze Star recipient who has proven himself/herself in battle being “gay” – it is going to happen…and yet there will be one of these “politicians” wanting to diminish these acts of bravery based on sexual orientation…THAT IS THE REAL PROBLEM IN OUR SOCIETY!

Oh well….back to the balcony to contemplate life. I wish I was in BFE! 


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