Andrew Sullivan, formerly of the NY Times before his conscience kicked in, now a blogasaurus who got picked up by Time.com has taken notice of the debate we had about gays in the military. I posted a piece advocating removal of the ban against gays serving openly and a very useful discussion ensued.
If you're interested in hearing a frank, smart, honest discussion of the gays-in-the-military issue among actual soldiers, gay and straight, then click here. It's a fascinating debate - and suggests to me that a new consensus now exists within the military that the ban makes little to no sense any more.
I appreciate Andrew's shining his powerful light on this and I will post an update tomorrow regarding this.
It's now tomorrow, and I read back through much of the discussion reaching pretty much the same conclusion I did previously which I summed up:
"If I am lying by the road bleeding, I don't care if the medic coming to save me is gay. I just hope he is one of those buff gay guys who are always in the gym so he can throw me over his shoulder and get me out of there."
There are several reasons that President Bush should remove this ban, the first of which is it's flat out the right thing to do. Any rationale for the ban involves allowing irrational prejudices of one group to override the rights of another. There was a time when homophobia or homohateia was a big enough problem that readiness would have been affected, but we have evolved since then as a people. And honestly it's past the point where don't ask, don't tell is really needed, most of the folks who chimed in said that they knew who the gay people were in their units. Maybe the policy should just be "Don't ask, don't care".
But pure political expediency would be another great reason. The public supports ending the ban in fairly large numbers, and doing so in conjunction with a package of benefits and changes to reward those who have been doing the fighting over these past years would be a tremendous coup. Adding some funding to VA programs, job transition programs, and all around soldier care issues would go nicely with a cup of doing the right thing by ending a discriminatory policy. It also takes away the cudgel of intolerance the left bashes the military and conservatives with, never a bad thing to hush your opposition.
Institutional discrimination is something very difficult to justify and requires impressive justification. There are few instances left other than race-based preferences for college admissions and this program for the military. We'll get to the wrongness of the college programs in due time, but I believe we can make the military truly representative of our country without hurting it and maybe even make it stronger.
- Uncle J