Obama’s decision to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell feels like it was forever ago, but it’s still not over, or something. House members already created legislation to undermine the repeal, and now service members are requesting the right to opt out of their enlistment if the repeal goes into effect. Because I mean, what is the military going to be like with all of these gay people in it? You know, all the ones who are already there and just aren’t allowed to be honest about it?
Even though countless gay people serve in the armed forces right now, despite their forced closeted status, the idea that they may be able to be, you know, out apparently still terrifies some Marines. At a question-and-answer session with Marines at an Afghanistan base, Robert Gates, Defense Secretary, was approached with this question:
“Sir, we joined the Marine Corps because the Marine Corps has a set of standards and values that is better than that of the civilian sector. And we have gone and changed those values and repealed the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy. We have not given the Marines a chance to decide whether they wish to continue serving under that. Is there going to be an option for those Marines that no longer wish to serve due to the fact their moral values have not changed?”
Some would perhaps point out that this is not actually so far off from what the army has really done – for instance, the ten-month review and research survey that the Pentagon insisted on performing, evaluating servicemembers’ and even servicemembers’ families’ feelings on a potential repeal. But Gates wisely avoided even bringing this up – because it shouldn’t have been an issue. A repeal of DADT is an ethical issue, and an issue of whether LGBT soldiers will continue to be treated as second-class citizens or not. Realistically, almost nothing else in the military is ever determined by a popular vote; why should this be?
Even though the president, Gates, and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have yet to certify DADT’s repeal, Gates’ answer was short: “no.” He went on to remind the Marines that liking your colleague’s life choices has never mattered, and that being in the armed forces is about more than your own homophobic tendencies:
“The reality is that you don’t all agree with each other on your politics, you don’t agree with each other on your religion, you don’t agree with each other on a lot of things,” Gates said. “But you still serve together. And you work together. And you look out for each other. And that’s all that matters.”
Moral of the story: the idea that someone can opt out of their military enlistment just because someone else, in a sector potentially far, far, away, is maybe out of the closet is, of course, a ludicrous one. But then again, so is this whole DADT debacle, most of the time.