"I do have serious concerns about the impact of repeal of [Don't Ask, Don't Tell] on a force that's fully engaged in two wars and has been at war for 8-1/2 years. We just don't know the impacts on readiness and military effectiveness." Thus spoke Gen. George Casey, Jr., Army Chief of Staff, while testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
What Gen. Casey fails to mention is that his "force" includes men and women who happen to be gay or lesbian. They, too, have been risking life and limb on behalf of the security of our nation. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testifying before the same committee on February 2nd, said, "I have served with homosexuals since 1968. Everybody in the military has, and we understand that." Truth be told, "homosexuals" have been fighting America's battles since the Revolutionary War. They weren't knows as "homosexuals" then, because humanity didn't have the understanding of primate sexuality to thus label them. Nevertheless, they were there, taking the same risks and paying the same price as anyone else. There was no law like "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in 1776. Not when "coming out" at that time might well mean a bullet in your head--not from a Redcoat but from a fellow Patriot.
Similarly, there were gay soldiers at the Alamo, at Bull Run and San Juan Hill, in the fields at3 Flanders, on the beaches of Normandy and Incheon, and at Hue. They fought and died not because they were gay soldiers but because they were there to do a job. The germane difference for them was that they did so while being forced to conform to a heterosexual culture that was as alien to them as the Viet Cong with whom they were locked in a life-and-death struggle. As the 21st Century approached, some of these gay men and women may have found the confidence to reveal their sexual orientation to their comrades on the battlefield...and lived. Life went on, the effectiveness of our fighting forces was not compromised, and morale did not suffer.
So, my question for Gen. Casey would be, "How, exactly, would our military effectiveness and readiness be compromised if our fighting men and women who are gay--and are right now every day doing their job effectively and on command--were simply allowed to talk about their loved one in the same chummy and casual manner as the person sleeping in the next bedroll or eating rations on the adjacent rock?" Unless you assume that the person on the receiving end of that information is a homophobe, incapable of doing his or her duty after knowing that an individual with whom they have almost literally walked through the gates of hell is gay, I can think of no reason at all. And, even if your dark suspicions should turn out to be justified, it seems to me that the only acceptable remedy would be to discharge the straight soldier who is terrified that that gay soldier might give them a wolf whistle, a pinch on the behind, or a wiggle of their booty. If they can't deal with that, how much less will they be stalwart when faced with an adversary that would love nothing better than to see them blown to little bits?