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Obama’s military policy raises problems

By Optimist Editorial Board
Posted on February 2, 2010 | Editorials | 3 comments

In his first true State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama revealed the state of our union is ironically similar to its state one year ago – minus some economic speed bumps.

Obama rebuked Republicans and Democrats for obstructing change, accusing Democrats of “running for the hills” and Republicans of voting against everything because they can.

“Remember this – I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I could do it alone,” Obama said. “Democracy in a nation of 300 million people can be noisy and messy and complicated.”

Of course the president never suggested he could write legislation, vote as every congressman and sign it into law. What he did “suggest” was that he had the drive and the ability to lead those legislators and representatives to bipartisan solutions. His address to the nation left his holster full of the change Americans hope they can believe in.

One particular item on Obama’s agenda should trouble the American people. Former President Bill Clinton introduced the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in 1993 to follow through on promises to allow homosexual and bisexual people to serve in the military. The policy prohibits recruiters and officers from asking servicemen and women about their sexual orientation. It also prohibits servicemen and women from engaging in homosexual sex acts or announcing their sexual orientation publicly.

Many stigmas and stereotypes, including those against homosexual individuals, are harmful. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” allows homosexual and bisexual individuals to serve, while prohibiting their sexual orientation from being an issue.

A combat situation is not the appropriate place to attempt to weed out the overwhelming bias in the military against the LGBT community. The physical, emotional and mental strain of warfare is terrible enough, without the additional tension that would inevitably arise if sexual orientations were made public. The policy should not be seen as a slight to homosexuals, bisexuals, transexuals, heterosexuals or asexuals. It is a good-faith attempt to promote cohesion among teammates – a cohesion that could make the difference between life and death.

The eyes of the world are – and have been – on our military since the Iraq invasion in 2003. We have enough unresolved military issues. If the LGBT community is still struggling to find a comfortable place in peaceful society on the home front, how many more obstacles must servicemen and women overcome in a war zone? How much more dire would the consequences of dissension in the ranks be?

avatar Posted by Optimist Editorial Board on Feb 2nd, 2010 and filed under Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.  - This post has been viewed 80516 times.

3 Responses for “Obama’s military policy raises problems”

  1. avatar Dan says:

    I could at least understand this editorial if it was being argued from a conservative, fundamentalist Christian viewpoint. I’d disagree, and find it myopic, but at least I’d be able to get my head around it. But this seems to be making the secular argument that keeping DADT is honestly the best way to promote unity in the armed forces. The piece comes across like a shrill call for morality and a trip to a time that never existed, as when Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss said that allowing gays to serve openly in the military would lead to, among other things, “alcohol use” and “body art,” as if no straight soldier has ever taken a drink or gotten some ink.

    And I have to echo the other two commenters: How can you run this op-ed with out mentioning the statements by the Secretary of State and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (among others) that repealing DADT is the right thing to do? From a J-school perspective, how much credibility do you think you have when the op-ed is this lazily constructed?

  2. avatar paa00a says:

    The editorial also fails to note the affect on the military of thousands of troops being unwillingly discharged, including many Arabic translators, which are desperately needed (so one could plausibly and easily argue that this policy makes America less safe).

    The editorial fails to note that troops can be discharged if their sexuality is revealed by a third party — a jilted partner or simply someone who doesn’t like them — rendering the point it attempts to make (that the policy “promote[s] cohesion) invalid. The editorial fails pretty glaringly to note that if this is such a poor time for change, why the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff advocated yesterday for the reversal of the measure. Finally, it fails to note that those most responsible for the policy’s creation — Bill Clinton and Colin Powell — now support its repeal.

    Then there’s this:

    “If the LGBT community is still struggling to find a comfortable place in peaceful society on the home front, how many more obstacles must servicemen and women overcome in a war zone?”

    What an odious sentiment. How does the author explain the existence of integrated regiments in World War II — 10 years before the Supreme Court ordered schools back home to do the same? What if the military had decided African Americans were “still struggling to find a comfortable place in peaceful society on the home front,” so why place “more obstacles” to “overcome in a war zone?” If the response is that homosexuality is a choice, whereas race is not, then at least it will explain why this editorial’s points seem 20 years old.

  3. avatar derrick9 says:

    What the writer of this post fails to acknowledge are the spouses of the LGBT service members and lack of benefit coverage for those spouses and children. But even that aside, there is never a good time for change as witnessed by this nation with the advent of the black civil rights movement of the late 50 and early to mid 60s. LGBT people are American people and therefore deserve full civil rights on all fronts including the military.

    As the late Dr. Martin Luther King stated, ” The time is always right to do what’s right.”

    There is never a bad time or place for social justice.

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