Monday, 26 July 2010
Don't Ask Don't Tell.
If someone asked you to conjure in your head an image of the armed forces, what would you think of? Strong, courageous men and women? Fighting side by side? United in their beliefs? Well then you would be correct. What you don't picture are the secrets hidden beneath the khaki. The unjust policies that still reside amongst the military. Because in America, if a soldier reveals in any way that they are gay lesbian or bisexual, federal law dictates that they have to be dismissed from their career.
This incredibly immoral rule means that not only do these young men and women have a physical war to deal with everyday, they're also battling with what they say and what they talk about. They're having to be someone they aren't whilst fighting for the country that restricts them. In the rules own words, a solider cannot talk about familial issues regarding homosexuality or their lifestyle since;
"It would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability."
While most of us thankfully see no difference between the man leading his troops to safety, or the woman who saves her friend during a terrorist attack, America does. It differentiates on something that if any other job tried to do, the US government would not be able to ignore it.
While a number of cases have cropped up during rallies for the repeal of the law, some stand out more than others. One man fighting for the Navy had his E-mails hacked into revealing his sexuality. He was immediately dismissed and information was sent to his family explaining he was dismissed for being gay. His family were unaware of his sexuality up to that point. What part of Don't Ask Don't Tell did this man violate? Whilst he was dismissed; (a man who in his own words claimed he would work for the Navy again in a heartbeat), the forces continue to let in ex convicts and serial offenders.
Another young man described how he didn't struggle with keeping his sexuality hidden whilst serving in the armed forces and enjoyed his time with his comrades. Yet one day while on patrol he claimed a close friend of his turned to him and said that they should hang gay people from the trees so that they know they're not welcome.
Why America feels comforted by the fact that they have fighting for their country ex convicts and homophobes I will never know. At least a majority of us can take comfort in the fact that a bill for a repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell has been passed, and the US Senate is going to vote in the summer of this year to hopefully, and finally, overturn this outdated rule.