Monday, May 25, 2009

Fighting the Good Fight Against DADT

It feels like a whole lot of nothing is happening in Washington to rid us of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The President hasn't rushed to fulfill his campaign promise to kick the policy to the curb. Some administration officials can't even see the curb. On Capitol Hill, Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy has been unable to find a Republican colleague to cosponsor a bill lifting the ban.

It's time for the gay community to adopt a new approach. Let's stop arguing that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the United State military is a matter of civil rights or fairness. Let's abandon logic and cease pointing out how harmful it is to our national security that the military keeps ejecting, for instance, Arab linguists.

Let's emphasize that this policy makes the U.S.A. inferior. To Uruguay.

Yes, that petite Latin American country is now ahead of us, having moved to lift its ban on gays in the military.

It's a blow to our national pride. We're lagging behind a country that, on a map, looks like the buttocks of South America.

Uruguay's gay ban was a relic of the 1973-85 military dictatorship. The law included homosexuality among the "mental illnesses and disorders" that made a person unfit for the armed forces.

The new decree says sexual orientation is no longer grounds to keep people from joining the military.

Altogether now, I want to hear every red-blooded American chant, "We're not number one! We're not number one!"

We’re not number two either. Scads of countries have leaped ahead of us. It's just plain embarrassing.

Earlier this year another South American nation, Argentina, jettisoned its ban on gays in the military. Days later the Philippines did the same. What a week. Not one but two countries outdistanced us. We earned ourselves a double helping of humble pie.

Really, that week should have been enough to get Americans hopping mad over being trumped by countries that don't have the decency to revere football.

The gay community played it wrong. We shouldn't have calmly pointed out that nations around the world are making the sensible choice for their militaries. Instead we should've harangued our fellow Americans, shamed them, demanded to know how they can put up with being left in the dust by countries no one can spell.

After attacking their patriotism, it might've been advantageous to question their bravery, too. These podunk countries aren't afraid of change. Are Americans so lily-livered that we're paralyzed by homos serving openly? Is the strongest military in the world actually made up of a bunch of wusses?

In addition to Uruguay, Argentina and the Philippines, other countries that have shot ahead of us include Canada, Israel, Australia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and more.

My favorite is Bermuda. The Bermuda Regiment doesn't discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and Regiment members aren't allowed to harass gay soldiers. In actuality discrimination within the ranks is tolerated, but at least the teeny island nation has seen fit to put an affirmative policy in place.

Which means that we've been bested by a military whose fiercest enemy is persistent seagulls.

There's another way of looking at this issue. Instead of focusing on those nations that allow gays to serve in the military, we could focus on those that explicitly ban them. Don't Ask, Don't Tell isn't precisely a ban but it's close, so we have much in common with Egypt, Syria, Peru, Singapore, and others.

The others include Cuba, Iran and North Korea. Axis of Evil party boys. Don't Ask, Don't Tell has us keeping company with the enemy. Blech.