When I first heard about the military's Dont Ask Dont Tell (DADT), I wondered what all of the fuss was about. My mother and I had already cut a similar deal back in the 60s. For the most part, it worked very well. She didnt ask what I was up to, and I didnt tell her. Consequently, she had fewer grey hairs, and I spent less time confined to my room. As I grew up and trust became less of an issue, our little agreement went by the wayside.
Were there any unforeseen bumps in the road? Possibly, but I dont remember anything dramatic, and unfortunately shes no longer here to ask.
Fast forward to today when DADT is a much more serious subject with our military and our society. Lets start with the assumption that DADT is going to be repealed a forgone conclusion, I believe. The questions then become how, and when, should the repeal take place. As you might imagine, I have an opinion.
However, before getting into the military DADT, I would just like to spout off a bit about prejudices in general. I try to be non-prejudicial in my everyday life, and for the most part, I believe I do a decent job of it.
My lovely wife is the only truly non-prejudicial person I know. Every single person she meets is equal in her eyes and in her heart, until they prove otherwise. Just the way it should be. Prejudice brings her to tears, literally.
Im sure most everyone clearly remembers all the prejudicial things that were said and done for years, specifically about but not limited to blacks and women. Turns out, they can fly planes, shoot straight, go into space, fight fire and crime, become CEOs and yes, even President of the United States.
My belief is that its the person, not their color, sex, religion, nor sexual orientation that determines their character. Are there less than credible people who are black, female, Muslim or even gay? Of course. But let us not forget that the severely misguided Timothy McVeigh was an American-born white male. Remember, its the book, not the cover!
Id like to make another point specifically addressing the gay/lesbian topic before returning to DADT in the military. While I dont know, I suspect that everyone reading this column knows, knows of, or suspects someone of being gay or lesbian. Probably everyone works with, has worked with, or has a relative who is gay or lesbian.
Now the key word here is knows. Just because someone looks a certain way, acts a certain way, or only uses pronouns when describing their friends or room mates, that doesnt make them gay or lesbian. So unless someone outs themselves or is outed, we can only suspect.
To take this a bit further, lets say that you have a coworker who you suspect is gay or lesbian, but you dont know it. Yet, for years, this person has successfully and honorably performed their duties, and possibly even been promoted a time or two. A stellar employee by any measure.
Then one day this person decides to come out of the closet and declare his/her other-than-heterosexual orientation. What has changed and how will this change the work place environment, or their performance? Im not gay, so I dont know, but my opinion is that it wont.
Now to the military DADT dilemma. I was in the military for 5 years, 18 months of which were on active duty. Open barracks, open latrines and showers all of us together, all of the time. In addition, I spent about 30 years in the fire service where our shifts worked, ate, played and fought fire all of us, together. Did I ever work with gays or lesbians in these situations? Probably. There were certainly those people whom I, and others, suspected of being gay or lesbian but we didnt know it and we didnt care.
The next logical question then, is if I had found out that they were gay or lesbian would it have affected our job, or more importantly, our mission, and I maintain the answer would be no. Might there be an occasional brush fire that has to be put out sure, but overall, it would work, and there are brush fires of all kinds to put out in every job, every day.
The point of view for maintaining DADT, or for postponing the repeal of it, that irks me the most is the foxhole argument. I have to tell you that I just dont see two people in a foxhole, taking fire, trying to stay alive, and one of them says to the other, Oh, by the way, nice butt! I give them more credit than that theyre professional soldiers mission above all else.
If Im on a hose line going in to attack a fire, the ONLY thing I care about the other person right then is can they do the job period! If so, they can be black, lesbian, Muslim, or all three, I dont care - lets just put the fire out and get out of here!
Will repealing the DADT policy now be perfect? Probably not, but whatever happed to improvise, adapt and overcome? Since its the military, I suspect that between orders, training and discipline, any issues that arise will be dealt with quickly and efficiently. A year from now, we will all be wondering, (just like with blacks and females in the military) what was all of the fuss about.
As I said previously, I believe the policy will be repealed. I say we trust the young men and women of our military to do the right thing and repeal it, out-right, now.
A political cartoon I stumbled upon hope you enjoy.
Thats my opinion, whats yours? See you next year!
Rick Godfrey writes a monthly column for fredericknewspost.com.