Just over a year ago, President Obama repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (woot!), which essentially closeted all gay service members. Supporters of DADT, including over 1,000 Flag and & General Officers for The Military, were adamant that the repeal of DADT would be detrimental to the function of the military. The Flag & General Officers stated:
“Our past experience as military leaders leads us to be greatly concerned about the impact of repeal [of the law] on morale, discipline, unit cohesion, and overall military readiness. We believe that imposing this burden on our men and women in uniform would undermine recruiting and retention, impact leadership at all levels, have adverse effects on the willingness of parents who lend their sons and daughters to military service, and eventually break the All-Volunteer Force.”
Well, through vigorous research, a study published last week by The Palm Center found that the DADT repeal had no overall negative impact on any of the above stated “concerns”. Aaron Belkin, author of the study and founding director of The Palm Center, stated that “repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ did not harm the military, and if anything made it easier for the Pentagon to pursue its mission.” Isn’t it crazy how allowing your service members to live in the manner in which they choose (just like everyone else in the military) DOESN’T AFFECT YOU?!
An article by The Huffington Post points out that the repeal actually improved unit cohesion and trust, by taking the risk out of having frank discussions about sexuality. Service members can now talk with their unit members and help enlighten and inform them about their typically wrong, preconceived notions about gay people, without the fear of a dishonorable discharge.
Most realized, through the process of this repeal, that nothing had changed with the reveal of others’ sexual identities. They had been respected before they came out, and they should continue to be respected, regardless of orientation. This just goes to show that probably the biggest obstacle in our path to equal rights is way before “acceptance”- which to me seems more like the stage in the grieving process than parity. It’s exposure. It’s teaching. It’s letting everyone know that despite our differences, we’re rooted in sameness. Despite what you may think, we have a lot of the same values, and many of us, just like any straight person, will fight to protect them.
So, that bumper sticker might not have been created in reference to gay service men and women, but it damn sure applies.