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    Armed and dangerous

    This AP story about a gay soldier who would like to continue serving after recovering from his wounds is making the rounds; it was Gay News where I first saw it.

    Out of all the sticking points over gays, I have to say, this is one of those I understand the least. The Center for Military Readiness, whose president is quoted in the AP article, has a full page of links on gays in the military, including one to the exclusion law. But the actual nuts-and-bolts reasoning given for the exclusion is very thin. It’s self-evident that the armed forces should only train those elibigle for service, but eligible is one of those words like efficient or positive; it only means something if we all agree on the criteria by which it’s being applied to a given case.

    The CMR releases and the text of Public Law 103-160, Section 654, Title 10 refer to the fact that the armed forces are a special environment requiring unusual discipline, close quartering, little privacy, and unit cohesion. That having gays around would compromise these things is an assumption–it’s not even really asserted, much less justified. I understand the value of tradition, and I know it’s been found that military service is not a constitutional right.

    But you’d think that the reasons for declaring people unfit (that “ineligible” bit is a PC euphemism worthy of the English department at Duke, and it conveniently avoids the question of whether people such as the discharged linguists were more qualified for their jobs than others who might have been trained for them) would be less vague. Given that “Don’t ask, don’t tell” has been in effect for a decade, if homosexuals were going to throw a wrench into the works, wouldn’t we know it by now? Not having two gay guys serving in the same unit makes sense–family members are separated, too, unless they’ve done away with that rule.

    But a lot of opposition, when you press people to be clear about what it is they’re so afraid of, comes down, in my experience, to the old shower-room argument. And try as I might, I can’t find it in me to take the whole “Well, see, I’m such a tough guy that I’m obliged to get spazzy if I think some gay guy just looked at me cross-eyed” routine seriously.

    In any case, Sgt. Stout was wounded while operating a gun, so whether or not he has any influence on policy, he did his job defending his unit and at least serves as an example that all gay guys don’t compulsively flee physical conflict. I’m grateful for his service, and here’s hoping he’s recovered fully. (I’m assuming so, but the article doesn’t say.)

    Added during a particularly overdone episode of Homicide : Apparently, Michael’s trackbacks are not, in fact, getting through. Here is where his response, in addition to his comments here, is.

    5 Responses to “Armed and dangerous”

    1. Michael says:

      Not having two gay guys serving in the same unit makes sense

      I assume you meant “gay partners” or whatever, because I think two gay guys in general could serve together without, you know, jumping each others’ bones ever chance they got.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      I think the evidence from male-female integration of the armed forces indicates that people who are likely to be attracted to each other sexually should not be serving in the same unit. Pregnancy wouldn’t be a problem, but, come on, man–the potential for emotional fall-out isn’t just some non-existent issue trumped up from nowhere by conservatives. Given our percentage of the population, how hard can it be to put gay guys in different units and make sure it’s not an issue? I’m sure a lot of brothers who enlist would swear that they wouldn’t let blood ties interfere with unit cohesion, and most of them probably wouldn’t, but there’s an easy way to make sure it doesn’t happen, so why not just use it?

    3. Michael says:

      Oh, so you DID mean to say what you said?

      Holy shit. Wow.

      I just don’t know what to say to that, Sean. So I won’t say anything.

    4. Michael says:

      Actually, I will. You just completely justified the military’s argument for keeping their anti-gay policies in place.

      We just can’t keep our hands off each other.

    5. Sean Kinsell says:

      Michael, will you learn to freakin’ read, already? I said “emotional fall-out” not “sexual free-for-all.” Suppose two gay guys are serving in the same unit and–hello?–FALL IN LOVE. Even if they vow to keep their hands out of each other’s pants until demob and mean it, we have the same problem that we’d have with two close relatives in the same unit: they’re close in a way that they aren’t to their other compadres, and that IS, in fact, at least a potential unit-cohesion problem. Of course, some members become closer buddies than others, anyway, but there’s no way to predict that and thus no way to prevent it. If you know who’s queer, you keep them out of the same units (it’s not as if our percentage of the population were going to skyrocket suddenly), you avoid the problem.

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