Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Why I don't support the injunction against DADT.

I joined the Army when I was 17, a couple of months after 9/11. At first I was in the reserves as a PFC, but then I received an ROTC scholarship and went to college to train for the officer ranks.

I'm also queer. I was active in the GLBTA and there were some nights when I would attend both an Army training session and a queer pride fundraiser in the same night.

I know firsthand the damage that DADT does to individual soldiers, unit cohesion, and the Armed Forces in general. It requires queer soldiers to either limit their social contact with their comrades to the point that they never have to lie about their personal lives, or it compromises their honor. It removes skilled technicians from the ranks at a time when we are fighting two wars and desperately need them.

DADT is wrong by every standard we could apply: constitutionally, morally, and functionally.

But placing an injunction against it that slaps the whole system down is not the right way to go about ending DADT. I know the military. If there isn't a very detailed manual telling them how to deal with a situation then they just...won't. And there will be situations to deal with: the soldiers around me in the cadet ranks were tolerant to the point that several knew about me and chose not to say anything, but enlisted combat units? Those are the guys who either didn't have the IQ for Armor or actually wanted to be enlisted Infantry. In the words of Joe, an enlisted Infantry soldier I spoke to a couple months ago on the subject, "We're the kind of pricks who'd shoot a fag."

Basically, if this injunction stands, we will see dead queer soldiers. We will hear rumors of beatings and abuses, but the chaos of such an abrupt change would leave queer soldiers with no proper channels to make a complaint. We will see a spike in friendly fire. We will essentially have thrown them in there with no safety net, no protections, and no way to defend themselves. Then we'll get the regulations and support network--but it will be reactionary and too late for some.

We need to do this the right way. We need to give the military time to set up proper support that can ease the transition--and that's key, making it a transition. An injuction in federal court that ends DADT so abruptly is not good for the Armed Forces and it's definitely not good for queer soldiers.

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