Not when we treat those same soldiers, who are making the same sacrifices, as criminals or predators because they happen to be gay. Such are the stories told by those dismissed under Don't Ask, Don't Tell....Such as Just-A-Joe the anonymous gay soldier who blogged about his time in the service, his unintentional coming out, and emminent dismissal. But nothing I can say will be as powerfull as their own words...
Don't Ask Don't Tell never leaves the news. This weeks flaming bag of governmental dog poop comes from the White House...you know that place where the President who promised to repeal DADT lives? Well...his minions have been at it again. This time, the Department of Justice is attempting to force a summary judgement in the case to repeal DADT brought to court by the Log Cabin Republicans. The motion for a summary judgement uses the same old homophobic talking points that you hear tirelessly dragged out again and again. See for youself(emphasis mine):
These rules are necessitated by, among other things, “[t]he worldwide deployment of United States military forces, the international responsibilities of the United States, and the potential for involvement of the armed forces in actual combat routinely [which] make it necessary for members of the armed forces involuntarily to accept living conditions and working conditions that are often spartan, primitive, and characterized by forced intimacy with little or no privacy.” Id. § 654(a)(12). Congress’s policy judgment culminated, as noted, in its finding that “[t]he presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts 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.”
If our President is so firmly commited to ending what he has spoken of as a "discriminatory policy", Than how are the people who work under him allowed to do this?...twice! the first time was back in October when they tried to have the case thrown out of court using the same offensive language. And the President defended them by stating that they were just doing their jobs, enforcing the laws as they now exist.
This in no way appears to be the actions of an administration headed for repeal, which is why I characterize it as the flaming bag of dog doo that it is. Everyday good Americans are being..not only kicked out for being gay...but being treated like criminals who should duck their heads in shame to boot...and a military escort off base sends that message loud and clear. This bureaucrat is comfortable sitting in his leatherbound chair on capitol hill, crafting statements like these to move his chess piece a little farther on the board that is other peoples real lives....Like the anonymous gay soldier who blogged under the moniker Just-A-Joe.
Being gay in the military is a psychologically tough experience. Tell someone that that there is something that they absolutely CAN NOT talk about and it will become all they can think about till their heads threaten to explode. Such was the case with "Joe". I can see from his earlier posts that he was unconsciously working his way to outing himself when along came this entry...and sorry...this is gonna be a long wordy post today...
The day did not seem any different than any day. I had no intentions of breaking my silence. In my team we discuss politics very frequently and it becomes heated most all the time. This is okay, we enjoy it. I enjoy listening to my counterpart call Fox news the only unbiased station, genuinely entertaining. This individual is an avid tea-party supporter. Our conversation started on that note. I brought up the fact that a sixteen year old was arrested at a wal-mart for smaller offenses than being committed in the congressional halls. He said that the movement has shown no violence. I said your crazy, same old, same old.
Somehow we managed to segue into a gay marriage discussion. I brought up the point that not all Americans are free and we should do everything to ensure this. My counterpart believed that there should be no government influence whatsoever. If a company does not want to hire a black person they should not be made to. The conversation kept building, and I felt the voice inside of me screaming. If from that conversation it was not noticeable that I was gay, they were crazy. I did everything but say this. The bubble finally popped though, I spoke rather loudly (outside I remind you) and stated “I am gay.” I proceeded to give a speech fit for the public. I was rather impressed with it actually, I am a much better speaker than a writer.
I rather hastily discussed the issues that we face, and how I give my blood and sweat just as they do. I told them flat out, “You know Ryan? My girl? Well… She does not have tits, he has a dick” and continued to explain how long we have been together and why he has sacrificed more than any of there wives. I ended speaking about how I do fight for my rights, how I call my Senators begging them everyday to allow me the freedom of honesty. I told them “we are going to tear this country into shreds if that’s what it takes, but I tell you this, we will get full equality no matter if you decide to stand in our way or not.” That was summarized. By this point I was so emotional, my mouth was dry, I was on the verge of tears and laughter. I felt those same emotions that ran through my head as a teenager following the coming out to my parents.
And so the volcano erupted and out came three years of repressed energy. afterward, he was approached by his Sergeant who told him everything someone in his position would hope to hear...
'I just want to let you know that this does not change my opinions at all. You are not going to be able to do that. However, my opinions are not changed concerning you either. I am not going to single you out. I am not going to out you. This can stay between us. You did make it real for me, however. I never thought about it from that perspective. If something was to happen to you, your partner would not even know. I do disagree with that, its wrong.'
Great! So all systems go to resume normality right?...wrong. The following Saturday "Joe" was informed that he was under investigation by DADT and the same Sergeant who made the statement of support above turned out to be the individual who actually turnes "Joe" in. By "Joe's" account this guy even talks about it on his facebook page.....you never can tell who you can trust during a witch hunt, can you?
Now...heres where it goes from being an abstract concept for us all to argue about at home...or legislate over in our private offices...to real people...and real pain.
Today I was informed that my command would be initiating an investigation on me. My luck with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is up. To be honest today has thrown so much in my face, I want to cry. I am at a loss of what to do. The other day, I felt honorable. I felt prideful. Today, I feel like a fucking criminal. I am tired. After serving this country for three years, in two deployments, I am no longer a soldier. I am now a prisoner. Let me be clear, because I thought this would be freeing, I thought I would be happier. I am not. Today, I am worse off than the previous three years.
They first informed me that I would be coming under investigation, that my comrades had been asked to submit a sworn statement by morning. I was at first okay with this. I am done being a part of an institution that will hire convicted felons yet condemn me for being a gay man. I have sex with men. I love a man. For that, I am a criminal.
I am so depressed right now it is unreal, I have not felt like this since I was that small boy questioning who I was and why my creator made me like this.
Taking a man, who has gone war to serve his country, and then making him feel as if he is a criminal and a pervert...that his life and sacrifice are of no meaning...is crime enough in my opinion. But they aren't done with him yet:
They are preparing the paperwork to discharge me under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” while telling me that it will sit in a manila envelope and not be pursued. Essentially, do to the fact that we are at war they need me. But when we return home they could effectively fire me. If I am not “qualified” to serve you would think that would insinuate any circumstance. However, at times of war those rules are overlooked....No more holding hands in the dark. Show them what fighting spirit means Joe.
...Instead, they will table the discharge until we return from Iraq, and then they will fire me. When they no longer want me. Enough is enough. Our Senators need to understand that we are real individuals. We are here. Every one of them has a gay soldier as a constituent begging silently for a voice. Hoping they will get that help. This is a congressional issue. They are going to make the decision on this.
I am done being silent. I love my job, and if they want to keep me for now, awesome. I am proud to serve! I will no longer be silent though, no longer. I ask you to take a stand against inequality with me. Let’s fight this hard, we will win.
A message from "Joe" to us at home:
I have a message to our government, to President Obama, to our nation! I fought for your freedoms! I am in Iraq now! I am currently fighting for your freedoms and if you can not give me the decency of honesty, of my integrity, my dignity, then I am done serving you. I will not be subjected to cruel acts of religious morality checking. That is not for the government nor my leaders to decide. I am an American soldier, not a terrorist! A soldier, what they call a hero. I give my blood and sweat to this country just as much as some of you and more than most of you! Change this for me.In my opinion you can argue about the number of discharges or the logistics of a repeal until the cows come home....all those ideas stay in the realm of idea until you hear a story like Joes. This is reality. People who we are asking to lay their lives on the line for our freedoms are not only not being granted theirs but are also treated as if they have done something criminal for which they should feel ashamed. Nothing could be further from the truth and its time to lift this burden from our gay, lesbian, and trangendered soldiers.
My message to my supporters, I love you! Thank you for being here for me in this struggle. If it were not for you I would not be motivated, and I would be alone. Stand with me! Fight with me! This is not over, it is only beginning!
Please visit Joe's blog at repealnow.org and give him some support. Until next time dear readers...