Tuesday, January 02, 2007

General recommends an end to discrimination of gays in the military

In today's New York Times retired general and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, John M. Shalikashvili, calls for the US military to adopt a policy of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation:

Last year I held a number of meetings with gay soldiers and marines, including some with combat experience in Iraq, and an openly gay senior sailor who was serving effectively as a member of a nuclear submarine crew. These conversations showed me just how much the military has changed, and that gays and lesbians can be accepted by their peers.

This perception is supported by a new Zogby poll of more than 500 service members returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, three quarters of whom said they were comfortable interacting with gay people. And 24 foreign nations, including Israel, Britain and other allies in the fight against terrorism, let gays serve openly, with none reporting morale or recruitment problems.

I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces. Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job.

Needless to say, your CaliBlogger believes that the time is long past due to end the ridiculous "don't ask, don't tell" policy initiated under Clinton.

Of course I believe the GLBT community should be entitled to the full panoply of human rights enjoyed by we straights.

Without reservation.

And while general Shalikashvili, perhaps chastened by the Debacle the Clintons made of their abortive attempt to liberalize the military, calls for prudence in the implementation of such changes, I find it heartening to see that the futility of current policy is being recognized where it counts most: within the ranks of the military itself.

I'd like to close this post with a comment I read in response to Justin Gardener's post on the subject at Donklephant.

howard Says:

I am a 74 year old Korean War veteran. Back then in the early ’50s, blacks couldn’t eat at white lunch counters, had separate water fountains, and sat in the back of the bus and other discriminatory practices. But in our barracks, they slept where ever, among the whites…and they fought shoulder to shoulder as trusted buddies. There is nothing to prove that gays in the military could not perform with distinction, if given the chance.

Gay discrimination is based on the theory that all gays are only into sex with you, Mr. Straightman. If that theory were ascribed to male heterosexuals, then there would be no military.

I have found that given the chance, people will strive and excel. Do you realize that gays are already flying our commercial aircraft, are chefs in the restaurants you patronize, they teach your children, and perform untold charitable events, just like you Mr. Straightman.

This is the 21st century, and time to rethink past prejudices.

Long. Past. Time.

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