Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Shooter

You don't have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight
--Barry Goldwater

The gays and the crimminals [sic] of the U.S should all be given a one way ticket to Iraq. It doesn't matter the gays are going to always bitch about something. Send the bastards on over

--anonymous Ranger Against War respondent

Today the first Marine seriously wounded in Iraq, Staff Sergeant Eric Alva, came out as gay in an effort to challenge the ban on gays serving in the military. Alva, a decorated staff sergeant who had served previously in Somalia and Japan, said he came to the realization that he must ask for recognition after he lost his leg following stepping on a land mine.

How does the military's marginalization of homosexuals differ from that of the Islamic fundamentalists, against whom we are supposedly aligned?
Both the U.S. military and Islamic fundamentalists heap opprobrium upon a group of individuals solely on the basis of their sexual orientation.

In addition to being flat-out unjust, the military is shooting itself in the foot, as it concedes that it is losing a large number of specialists in critical occupation areas such as medical and translation services due its the ban on gays.

The Army's argument against gay membership panders to an old canard that having openly gay members would affect unit cohesion. This seems patently hypocritical when you have hetero service members openly engaging in liasons, often illicit, within their own units.

How are the stellar performances put in by unweddedly impregnated Spc. Lynndie England while serving as an MP at Abu Ghraib, and those of her lover, the sadistic Pvt. Charles Graner, and the nude photos in the shower room by one-time hero Jessica Lynch, any more acceptable than allowing gay service personnel such as Alva?

The only possible issue concerning sexuality should be that service members abide by certain rules of discretion concerning their personal conduct. Clearly that standard is not being adhered to within the het ranks of military membership. So long as personnel execute their duties in a manner that does not detract from their successful performance, what is the issue?

If gays are to be disallowed from military service, than in what other capacities are they unfit to serve?

Can they be directors of the FBI? The late great J. Edgar Hoover had an affinity for wearing ladies dresses during off-hours--did that prohibit him from execution of his duties while on the job?

Or how about Retired Lieutenant General Hank "Gunfighter" Emerson--father of the U.S. Special Forces--who came out as gay following his much decorated service in the U.S. military. Would we be any the better for having lost a fine Soldier as Hank Emerson because of his sexual orientation?

Our current "don't ask, don't tell" military policy is just a milder institutionalization of the previous "you're not welcome here" policy. Either stance amounts to marginalization of a group of citizens based on their sexual orientation at the least, and their criminalization at its worst.

Let those moral judgments stop at the church house door. Rev. Ted Haggard may have to proclaim his "absolute heterosexuality" to his congregation following some course of sexual re-orienteering following his hypocritical performance, but
American citizens should not have to alter their being for rights to full participation in their society.

This exclusionary mindset is cruel and brute and has no place in civilized society, if that is indeed the American intention. If Staff Sgt. Alva is fit to lead his 11 Marines in a convoy through the desert at night, then he is fit to receive the honor of full recognition as a Marine, regardless of his sexual affiliation.

by Jim and Lisa


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