Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"The dignity of being themselves"

On Sunday, John McCain spoke out in favor of a policy that has meant the loss of thousands of qualified military personnel. Rightfully so, former Secretary of Army Clifford Alexander thinks this is deeply troubling:

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What's so frustrating about this issue is that it seems unsophisticated for a civilized country. To me, government-sanctioned opposition to gays in the military seems far, far, beneath us. I can't understand how, or why, we're still having this debate.

Shouldn't we, as a nation, be far beyond being weirded out by the thought of guys soul-kissing or thinking homosexuality is a contagious disease?

Beyond that, sustained discrimination against openly gay soldiers in the military denies all of us our humanity. We've essentially reduced the issue to a caricature, where gay soldiers are rigorously pursuing butt sex and straight soldiers are 9-year-olds afraid to take off their clothes in the locker room.

And then we need to consider the very real costs to our military, something that should be of paramount importance during a time of war.

Because of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," we've lost more than 13,000 military personnel, including 800 with skills considered "mission critical," and cost ourselves nearly $200 million in the process. It all seems like quite a waste.

Yet somehow, McCain thinks the policy is working well. Which proves how fortunate we all are that he was defeated on Nov. 4.

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