Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Free to Be ... in the Military

Don't ask don't tell.

I find it unconscionable that in this day in age of transparency and instant, open communication - people serving in the American military are not granted the same human rights as civilians. They serve their country, knowing that they may be asked to make the ultimate sacrifice. Yet they are not free to be - exactly who they are - not if they happen to be gay.

I am proud that as a nation, Canada has shed this archaic discrimination in 1992. Not only can people who are gay serve openly in the military, Canada legalized gay marriage in 2005 - becoming one of a handful of countries granting gay marriage the same and full rights as heterosexual marriage. Equality. What a concept.

Aren't we helping to secure equality for women in Afghanistan? Ironic.

America is considered to be a young progressive country ... it's time. There will always be individuals (in the military and otherwise) with opposing views and personal prejudices, however a nation's policies must reflect the greater good -- the aspiration of equality for all.

Don't ask ... it doesn't matter.

As images of fresh faced men and women, outfitted in desert fatigues, serving in the treacherous desolates of Afghanistan and Iraq run across my television screen, my heart swells with concern for their well being. I wonder how they cope with the stress of impending danger - and homesickness. Does it make any sense that any of these dedicated soldiers should have the added burden of concealing their authentic self? It is mandated dishonesty at the most basic level.

I dream of a day when tolerance gives way to acceptance; when love is bigger than fear; when people are not diminished because of who they love.

It's time to let go of fear and free the soldiers, so they are free to be themselves - like you and me.

7 comments:

  1. Obama mentioned taking care of this, so we can only hope.
    I personally never ever ever want to be a part of the military, but I have a lot of respect for people who do, and you're right, they have enough to deal with besides this.

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  2. I think it is ironic the the land of the free is anything but on so many levels. I feel that America is a repressed country in many ways. And there is too much fundementalist religion for it to be otherwise.
    xx

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  3. I think it's totally time for the US military to accept that gay men and women are serving in silence and deserve to be free. I think it's going to happen soon, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it does. I know people near and dear to my heart who are still unable to accept gay men and women as equals and it breaks my heart - hopefully a new generation of acceptance is being instilled in our children.

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  4. Oh boy. You've chosen a topic that's close to my heart. Having a soldier in the service puts a spin on how I view anything military related now.

    I think there is an overwhelming number of Americans who feel the same as you do, myself included. It's tragic that our men and women fight, and sometimes give their lives, for the basic rights they themselves are not granted. However, change comes slowly down here in the states. Even though the majority of people in my life are becoming more open to "liberal" views, the older generation of Americans are stubborn and set in their ways.

    When Obama was elected it served as a symbol of the change the youth of America want desperatley, but it doesn't mean that change will come easily. Our president has his work cut out for him, and especially since his support within the government itself isn't as great as his support from the citizens.

    I hope that I live to see the day that Americans can proudly declare themselves free of prejudice, but I also recognize that the last time we had an issue with prejudice it took both a civil war and long years of restoration to bring us to the place we are now. Change is both neccessary and immenant, but it is a long hard road to the complete freedom we want.

    ...and to the first few men and women who will choose to assert their rights and defend their sexuality in the military...I can only offer up praise of their courage, prayers for their safety, and the knowledge that I'll be standing behind them.

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  5. Thanks Jon, Mandy, Kattrina and Carrie for sharing your thoughts...

    I have to say though that I am not so sure that the prejudice is just a generational thing ... once gay becomes your uncle, your sister, your child ... gay has a face. The elders in my family have been open minded and embracing to my daughter and fully supportive of gay marriage. The eldest in our family - a 92 yr old baptist lady didn't so much as flinch at the news we had someone gay in the family. She even attended a same sex marriage and thought it was wonderful. I think that when you get older and wiser you often realize what is truly important ...

    Like I said, I have a dream that someday, we will accept and respect.

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  6. Lyn, I think perhaps the gap I see in levels of tolerance between generations may have something to do with my location. ...My family, my community for that matter, comes from a long line of conservatives. Change is a scary thing to the people of my hometown. (We're deep in the country and stuck in "old fashioned" ways.)

    It wasn't until my classmates and I went away to college that we experienced any real diversity. And it wasn't until then that I REALLY started to notice how different my opinions were from my parents and grandparents. ...even though change has come to my family directly, their eyes are still clouded with resolute distrust. It honestly breaks my heart. :/

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