Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

 In the last few months, the military’s policy on homosexuality (Don’t ask, don’t tell) has been in the news.   One of the Obama administration’s stated goals is repeal of the policy.  To that end, last month they pushed for a vote on the subject; which they lost.  I understand why they were pushing.  If they wanted this done, now would be the time; soon, the climate may well be decidedly chilly for this sort thing.  And, to be honest, they had a pretty good shot.  Public opinion seems to be on the side of repeal, with anywhere from 57 to 75% in favor of allowing openly gay Americans to serve in the military.  Military opinion is a little more split, with the most prevalent opinion being “no preference”.  The leadership is leaning toward getting rid of it, with former Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Shalikashvili, current Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates all speaking out for repeal.  So, why is it still in place?  Because we have to leave this decision up to politicians and too many of them are more worried about getting elected than doing the right thing.

I wish I could say the Church had the high ground in this little set-to.  I guess I could, but I’d be wrong.  Oh, so wrong.  First of all, most of the prejudice against homosexuals comes from the church.  For as long as anyone can remember, certain verses of the Bible have used (incorrectly, in my humble opinion) to marginalize, criticize and, yes, bully folks who aren’t like us.  Loving your neighbor was main thrust of Jesus’ entire ministry and, in this, we’re failing miserably.  The church supposed be the one place where everyone is accepted and loved unconditionally.  Yet all too many denominations either have caveats in their doctrine that prevent LGBT folks from getting married or serving in ministry, while others exclude them outright by denying them membership.  My very own United Methodist Church has an article in our Book of Discipline (church law, basically) that supports equal rights for homosexuals; then, we deny them the right to marry or be ordained in ministry.  And, we’re supposed the progressives on this kind of issue!  How can we expect Congress to do the right thing when we won’t do it ourselves?

That may be changing; on the legal front, if nowhere else.  Last month, a decorated flight nurse sued the military for discharging her and won, with the Air Force being forced to return her to duty.  Two days ago, on October 12, U. S. District Judge Virginia Phillips issued a worldwide injunction against enforcing the policy.  Now, this injunction could be left to stand and, for all intent and purpose, Don’t ask, Don’t tell would be a thing of the past.  But, the Obama administration, in all it’s wisdom, wants Congress to repeal it.  So, they’re going to file appeals and challenge the ruling.  That’s great, this isn’t enough of a political football already, so you’re going to make Congress do what you want them to.  It sounds like a bunch kids fighting instead of the leaders of the most powerful nation in the world trying to figure how to treat their citizens.  And, we wonder why the rest of the world thinks we’re idiots. 

It’s 2010 and well past time that ALL Americans enjoyed the rights guaranteed them in the documents this country was founded on.  In the Declaration of Independence, it is stated that everyone is “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.  It doesn’t matter what color you are, where you worship, who you sleep with or anything else, we all have these rights.  It’s about time we started living up to that ideal.