Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ask & Tell, Who Cares?

As it is Veterans' Day, I feel compelled to comment on Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  I especially feel entitled to discuss Don't Ask, Don't Tell as a straight woman who has never served in the military, or ever held a job that involves weaponry of any kind (except a sharp wit).  I probably could let it go, except that General James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, won't.

The Department of Defense sent out a survey last summer to 400,000 services men and women, and another 150,000 of their family members, asking them about the policy.  Turns out that the majority of Army, Navy, and Air Force surveys returned agreed that the policy could be retired.  The lone branch holding out: The Marine Corps.  Then again, I'm basing this on leaked information, not the full report that will be released in the next few months.

What is it about the culture of the Marine Corps that is so resistant to gay service members?  Shouldn't the chief criteria as to whether someone can serve in the military be whether or not they want to serve?  That they love their country?  That they can contribute to the defense of our country by all enemies, foreign and domestic?  That they possess special skills that are critical to America's mission?  Frankly, I think whether or not a person has graduated from high school and can run 50 yards without a heart attack is more important to the job than what that person does in their free time.  At the height of the Iraq Surge, it's not like recruiters were enforcing the weigh-in policies, and were waiving the high school diploma rule.

To me, that is what's wrong with the policy.  Why are you introducing sexuality to the workplace?  If somehow, men and women can work together without constantly having sex with each other, why do we assume that gay men can't control themselves?  With the changing scope of the military, where men and women serve on submarines with each other, where is the issue?  The policy is clear: This is a workplace, so control yourself.

So, why is the Marine Corps some type of dinosaur that can't work with the changing workplace.  And, with the advent of new technologies, why do we need a Marine Corps?  Do we really need a group of soldiers on ships to fight hand-to-hand combat on the high seas?  Or storm the beach?  As the Marine Corps is just a part of the Navy, can't they just be absorbed and let the more evolved, more nimble branches of the service continue to recruit the best and brightest of our youth and continue to defend the country?

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