That an end to the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy would solve his military recruitment problems overnight? I honestly am beginning to think that people are keeping this information from him. With the recent discussion of increasing our troop levels in Iraq (how about securing Afghanistan first–they’re the ones who attacked us and we still let them run their poppy fields), it would seem to me that the logical logistic solution is to tap the resources already available for recruitment: homosexuals who want to serve but can’t because of a nonsense policy.
We’ve all heard the stories of how we dismissed 14 arabic language translators right when we needed them the most solely for their sexuality. There are a number of ex-servicemen and women who would likely reenlist if they were allowed to be open about their sexuality.
Look at the latest Zogby poll results.
A recent poll from Zogby International and the Michael D Palm Center shows that US military personnel are increasingly at ease serving with openly gay colleagues.
The poll reveals that 73 percent of military members aren’t bothered by lesbians and gays. Nearly one in four (23 percent) service members report knowing for sure that someone in their unit is lesbian or gay, including 21 percent of those in combat units.
But how can that possibly be if we have such a deleterious effect on “unit cohesion?” (Note sarcasm.) Simply put: we don’t.
The two objections still voiced by opponents of ending the policy — the impact on readiness, and on unit cohesion and morale — have been all but exploded.
Military readiness means having the best and the brightest, not kicking out Arabic translators, surgeons and helicopter pilots just because they’re gay, as has happened in recent years.
Unit cohesion and good morale thrive when team members bond tightly, sharing details of their lives and friendships. Increasingly, young adults — the backbone of our armed services — have gay friends and support their serving openly.
Additional evidence of the non-impact of openly serving gays can be found in the history of gays serving side-by-side in the Israeli army for decades.
Recently the number 40,000 has been passed around the media as a speculative figure for how many “more troops” will be needed if we proceed with “a surge.” Interestingly enough, Soulfource’s own figures indicate that there are enough potential GLBT soldiers to completely fill that need.
An estimated 65,000 GLB soldiers currently serve in silence. An estimated 41,000 citizens would serve in the armed forces if they did not have to lie in order to do so. Over 10,000 soldiers have been discharged under DADT. Training replacements for those discharged, including more than 80 critical linguists, has cost the American taxpayers at least $364 million.
I find it an immensely gratifying show of courage and integrity that there is such a strong movement within the gay ranks to serve a country that paints us as less than full citizens. Just as we gays & lesbians love each other with the same strength and passion as straight couples, so do we love our country with the same strength and desire to protect it as any straight person does.
DADT is an farce of a policy signed by Bill Clinton that has no place in such a nation in dire need of security resources. There are service-ready men and women just waiting for the day they can be true to themselves while at the same time serving the country they love so well. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) has been working to repeal the ban since its institution in 1993. You may sign the current petition to lift the ban here.
For more information you can check the Frontlines blog, which recently posted the Top Ten DADT stories of 2006 (a rallying cry by the media for the policy’s repeal), or check out Soulforce’s Right To Serve campaign. Here are a couple of video clips about this past year’s Soulforce campaign:
These kids should make you prouder than a thousand gay celebrities ever would. Mister President, let them serve.