Congress has officially repealed the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy for American service members, but what does this mean for the big picture?
This policy, in its original intent was to allow gays and lesbians into the military as long as they weren’t openly gay. Therefore, the revoking of this policy is nothing short of a milestone for gays and lesbians in the military as well as one giant step towards nation-wide acceptance of alternate lifestyles.
On the surface, this appears to be a good thing, however, it might have larger and more serious repercussions than Congress had imagined.
Until a few years ago, the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy meant exactly that. Fellow government employees couldn’t legally ask, and those who had something to hide weren’t required to answer.
However, few people are aware that as early as 2006, American servicemen were given classes on the changes to the DADT policy. The new rules stated that any gay or lesbian service member could be open about their sexuality, so long as they weren’t caught performing sexual acts. This also applied to heterosexual servicemen, as the idea was to maintain a professional military bearing and atmosphere.
From my own experience as a recently, honorably discharged member of the military, I believe that American servicemen liked this policy. The changes made to it allowed for everyone to be accepted and also to cut down on discrimination.
Obviously, one would continue to encounter the men and women who were taught since birth that homosexuality is a bad thing and one could not fault them for continuing to believe it, no matter how outdated that mindset might be.
But most service members would be happy to explain how they have no problem with the sexual orientation of a fellow service member, provided that they are respectful, professional and fall in line like everyone else.
But a full repeal of the policy may not have the desired effect that Uncle Sam was looking for.
Say two men share a room and sleep just feet away from each other. One man is an open homosexual and the other comes from an area in the country where homosexuality is shunned. It is a recipe for disaster. The two men will live in constant indifference over everything and ultimately will begin to affect the whole platoon of 20 or more men, which could lead to poor working conditions and even more likely, lead to unnecessary hostility within the troops.
The level of promiscuity in the military is legendary. The men, dirty and weary from a field-operation, will get back to their rooms, pick out their weekend clothes, throw them in a backpack and leave the base confident in their hunt for companionship for the weekend. On Monday, they will reconvene and tell stories of their drunkenly blissful mini-vacation and congratulate each other.
It could stop there, or it could continue on. Suppose one particularly promiscuous service member contracted an STD and was unaware of it. Then he shared a canteen with his roommate or fellow unit member who then contracted it and shared it with another and then perhaps that service member shared it with a local village kid while he was overseas.
A massive outbreak of STD’s was already a possibility but now, as we loosen up the restraints on our rapidly softening military, we increase the odds. Soldiers will now risk outbreaks of uncomfortable living conditions and more unnecessary violence on those who do not deserve it.
This is the American armed forces; people don’t join to do what they want. It’s all about following orders not proving points.