I am a recently separated United States Army Captain, a fiscal conservative, a lifetime member of the Republican Party; and I am angry. I am mortified that these characteristics align me with the forces of sexual discrimination that permeate our nation’s politics and its armed forces.
But I am writing this to share the consensus of every military service member I ever had the honor of serving with.
While a member of the armed forces is not at liberty to comment publicly on any policy, I can now voice the general consensus of our military personnel. I am eager to assure the public that an overwhelming majority of our service men and women are fiercely opposed to the continuation of our country’s discriminatory policy against gay Americans serving openly under the guise of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Those who are not strongly opposed to the policy are at most completely indifferent. Many gays serve in our military with their sexual orientation known and accepted, but there are too many that are forced to live a double life, where their job and career are in constant danger because of their sexual orientation.
Who are the opponents of repealing this policy? I see them on television and in debates across the political spectrum. They all seem to have only one common characteristic with respect to the military: they have not ever served in the armed forces in any capacity. All military servicemen and women are shouldering the burden of our nation’s freedom, and the freedom of all Americans. This sacrifice is often taken far more lightly by those who have not sworn their life to its defense. I can cry at the thought of anyone taking on such a burden, while never being free to be themselves.
The U.S. military has consistently been progressive in its handling of issues that we now view as past injustices. The integration of women and racial desegregation were addressed by the military decades before the American public opinion made the shift.
Any policy or legislation that does not afford all Americans equal rights, regardless of sexual orientation, is contrary to what all soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen have been fighting and dying for throughout our nation’s history. This duality is not lost on servicemen and women. Why is the American public resisting any policy that restricts the most patriotic of Americans from serving our great country, and the freedoms that are long overdue?
President Obama needs to do what he promised and what he knows in his heart to be the right thing. History will judge contemporary prejudice against gays as one of the great injustices of our time. The president must know that the military supports an end to this injustice. The continuation of this policy is an enormous insult to the social liberties that we are sworn to protect.