Gay Soldiers and Leadership

The Gay

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) wrote an op-ed about gays in the military that was published in the USA Today. A choice excerpt:

“Gen. Pace’s principles reflect the strong aversion of our Marines and soldiers to homosexual conduct. These moral principles also reflect the position of the predominantly conservative families who send their young men and women to serve in the U.S. military.”

And another:

“It is not fair, nor conducive to unit cohesion, for young Americans whose moral principles reject homosexual conduct to force them to live and operate in close quarters with those who exercise such conduct, just to satisfy liberals in the U.S. political system.”

You could actually go through this article and replace homosexuals with any group. Like, “It is not fair to force them to live and operate in close quarters with black people/Jews/liberals/Muslims.”

Statements like these betray such patriotic faith in petty things like the Bill of Rights, the American spirit, and the Constitution.

I knew a lot of gay soldiers. Some got outed (not by their choice), some outed themselves, and some were never outed. They were overwhelmingly good and responsible soldiers and leaders.

There are a lot of dumb hicks and ignorant people in the military, yes, but their prejudices are confirmed by the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which could serve as a transitory way to bring about equality but which is currently used as mollification for critics and a condemnation of gay people in general to secrecy.

Most of the soldiers I worked with couldn’t care less if someone was gay. If someone could take care of themselves and their troops, and help out with the massive work load, then they were part of the team. The only people who got no respect were the ones who didn’t do their part.

As for the rest of the soldiers, all it takes is senior leaders to say, “Knock off the gay-bashing shit or we will hem you up,” and I’m pretty sure most of that mentality would go away. Some would fight it but they wouldn’t be able to hide behind military policy, just as how we’re taught so much about equal opportunity and rape towards female soldiers but the threat still lingers, especially in a sex-starved Iraq.

Come on, Americans are better than this. And our representatives should be also.

Leadership

Here is a great letter about how our senior leaders failed us. I can attest to how well the military trains its people to be leaders. But there are always those who slip by. Fat, lazy, irresponsible, untrained people get promoted for one reason or another. Then they ruin a unit with their negligence or abuse. Even worse when it comes from the officer corps. I remember writing in my Iraq diary (which I may post here again shortly) about the medals people were getting in Iraq…majors getting bronze stars for sitting at a desk, for example.

Soldiers are supposed to fight or work their asses off for some of these guys?