Military Equality Will Strengthen Our Troops, Patriotism

December 20, 2010

courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

(ChattahBox Op/Ed) – Like many level headed Americans I an thrilled that DADT will go away soon enough and I am satisfied that the will of the people is well represented with the vote of Congress in repealing this inhumane policy that has haunted some of the bravest men and women to serve their country for many decades.  And I do mean decades.  If you think there weren’t’ homosexuals serving in the military, any military, since the beginning of time, think again.  This is an issue that should have been resolved many decades ago, but we are on the brink of that barrier being torn down like the Berlin Wall.

But what does all this mean to our service men and women in the bigger picture?

Truthfully, the policy guarantees that you cannot be kicked out of the military because of your sexual preference, as it should be, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some real issues to be dealt with as we move forward.   Not everyone in the military will embrace the new policy, as is true for any new policy.  Not every officer will be a gentleman or woman, that I can promise you that discrimination will still be an issue for those who are gay and who serve openly.  I’m not being a pessimist for the sake of being a pessimist, but I am being a realist for the sake of truth.

Legislating something doesn’t make it immediately acceptable. The right of woman and blacks to vote wasn’t a love fest when it became legal.  Prohibition was a laughingstock.  Woman serving in the military was always and in many circles is still controversial, same with blacks serving.  Bias and prejudice holds deep roots in the belief system of too many people and the idea that simply legislating something as a cure to a problem is naive.  But, it is a start and an important start to ensuring equality and to also ensuring the best qualified people who serve will be able to do so for all the right reasons and will no longer be barred for all the wrong reasons, and that is progress, clearly.

Some years back I consulted a radio syndication company that was based in Oceanside, CA. home of Camp Pendleton a rather large military installment for the United States Marie Corps.  Across the street from the Network headquarters was a gay bar that was mostly packed with military personnel.  I remember being rather astonished that these men mostly were openly attending this bar that was commonly known to be a gay bar.  This was in 1996.  So the idea that gays in the military being some kind of secret was confusing to me.  Obviously I had a lot to learn.

Some years later I met a very nice family where the Dad was retired military and loved to regale anyone who would listen to his tales of his military service, as most retirees love to do no matter what they did for a living.  One of his favorite stories was how many of his fellow soldiers were bisexual and that the idea of homosexuality in the military was a terrific secret was laughable.

As my radio career began to blossom and my topics began to expand, the topic of gays in the military would be a hot button issue, but I would be inundated with e-mails from active military members telling me that most men in the military could have cared less who was gay and who wasn’t.

My confusion always centered around this reaction because if the men (and women) who were serving weren’t concerned about it why was it such a big deal, right?  Well we now know the answer to that was and is politicians, as evidenced the past week by Republicans who were trumping up false images and worn out arguments that were ready to be retired, as they successfully were.

I don’t know if I’m as much concerned about what happens once the new policy takes hold as I am concerned about the minority of those who will still oppose it and what they may do to express their displeasure because the reality of military life is that there have always been gays in the military and not every gay man or woman were expelled because of their sexual orientation.  I believe that the CO and his/her personal dislike for homosexuals was the deciding factor to whether or not someone was forced out of their service and I could be wrong but clearly not every gay service member to ever serve was closeted.

Be that as it may, soon enough another layer of discrimination will be peeled away from a critical segment of society and as time passes and time heals this will not be an issue at all.  I don’t anticipate a huge influx of gay people to enlist as I don’t expect a huge increase of gay military members to suddenly start doing a Gay Pride Parade in the middle of Basic Training camp, and nether do you.

Not much will change if anything in the day to day running and recruiting of the United States Military and that will be proof enough for me anyway that this is a policy change long overdue.  Morale will increase and quickly.  Retention rates will increase quickly.  Reenlistment rates will increase quickly.  And all of this is as a simple result of doing something that countries all over the world have done for years.  Let people who want to serve do just that.  No questions asked because as we always knew, to serve your country has always been about willingness, patriotism and pride, good old everyday American pride.

Congratulations American for finally getting something right that should have never been wrong to begin with.

Tony Trupiano is a former national syndicated progressive radio talk show host, author, and a former candidate for Congress. He is also a nationally recognized media trainer.  He can be reached at tony@mediatony.com and can read his Blog at http://www.mediatraining.me


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