The Military Needs to be More Fabulous

February 11, 2010

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Ask any republican politician and they’ll tell you we’re fighting a war, regardless of the fact that no war was ever declared by congress.  Despite this, combating terrorism is something that is often on top of the list of priorities of things to do when you’re running the United States, or attempting to scare the general public into submission.  You’d think we’d want the top intelligence possible when fighting terrorism, and to do so clearly we’d want the best linguists in both the Farsi and Arabic languages.  Yet more than a few linguistic experts have been dismissed from the military for being gay in the past few years alone.  Don’t believe me?  Do a Google search with the phrase “how many military experts have been dismissed for being gay?”

I’m sure there are a ton of boilerplate arguments as to why we need to keep gays out of the military, or at the least keep them from coming out.  Let’s go over them one by one, and if I missed your argument please feel free to express it in the comments after this article.

1)  “Homosexuality destroys unit cohesion”

A recent article from UC Davis shows that this is simply not true.(1)  The TL:DR of this article is that task focus is greater than social acceptance and the military is a task-oriented organization.  Our military got over integrating minorities.  It got over integrating women.  It will get over integrating homosexuals.

2)  “Homosexuality is bad for morale”

As early as the mid 1990’s, the American Psychological Association stated this simply isn’t true.  Based on studies of foreign military systems that allow homosexuals, there is little to no evidence that there is disruption or loss of effectiveness.  (2)

3)  “Military leaders have expressed in the past that allowing homosexuals to serve would be disruptive”

Many of those military leaders have now changed their mind.  Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Shalikashvili and former Senator and Secretary of Defense William Cohen, who both spoke against gays in the military as recently as 2007 have since changed their minds.  (3)

4)  “Most members of the military would oppose homosexuals in their unit”

 There are some polls that show a sizable percentage of military members oppose openly homosexual fellow soldiers, but those polls are generally from 2006 or earlier.  A Zogby poll of recent veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan showed that 3/4 of them were comfortable interacting with homosexuals in their military life.  (4)

Now a few pros:

The cost savings alone should be worth it to the right, who continually try to label themselves as fiscally sound.  In a 2006 report the Pentagon stated that discharging gays from the military cost well over a quarter of a billion dollars in lost training, re-training and recruiting. (5) 

A bigger issue to your average republican politician, who continually bash the current administration for being “too soft” on terrorists, should be the loss of much-needed linguists.  In May of 2007, the Pentagon discharged 57 Arabic linguists for being gay.  Iraq was perhaps at its most fragile at that time, and Afghanistan was just beginning to flare up – should this have been the time to bend rules and keep some of your most valuable intelligence assets on hand?  For you sports fans, this seems to me to be like firing half your scouts a month before the draft.

Finally, there’s the moral issue that some will argue.  America was founded on moral principals and needs to stand by those principals while we fight those who seek to undermine us and destroy our way of life.  I counter that by say this country became great by embracing diversity and being open about change.  Some of our greatest moments include the abolition of slavery and the women’s rights movement.  If we don’t allow gays to openly serve in our military, what does that say about us?  I say it makes us no better than the intolerance and hate we claim to fight in the name of fighting terrorism.  To those who still oppose gays in the military, why do you hate America?






One Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Martin Kelly
    Feb 11, 2010 @ 09:55:44

    I disagree and agree with you on this one. The disagreement is on the declaration of war. True, the congress did not use the word ‘war’ in their authorization of military force, but that is like saying that Viet Nam was not a war jsut because the word was not used in the legisation.

    I agree about homosexuals in the military. What I do not uderstand is the demand by activist for embracing homosexuality rather than just acceptance. The don’t ask don’t tell rule should work if it is actually enforced; punish those who ask not just those who tell. I do not understand the need to broadcast ‘I am gay and you have to support me!’

    I know and have worked with many (more than twenty that I know of) openly gay people (I once lived in Houston which has a larger gay population than San Francisco). There has never been a problem unless someone felt it necessary to tell people that they were gay. This is just as inappropriate as me telling people that I am heterosexual. Your sexual prepreference should not be considered in your work, even if that work is military.

    My work supports our war fighters and I have plenty of interface with them. You and the experts are right, unit cohesion is based on mutual respect and trust, not sex, orientation, or preference.

    I do not support the current push for changes of policy. I think we have more important things for congress to work on. But, I am more aggressively against those nutcases from Kansas who protest at military funerals. Their claims that our soldiers are dieing because America support homosexuality and abortion just serve to re-enforce the most aggresive activist beliefs.


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