I loved reading this tweet over the Christmas holiday. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell needed to go. Needless to say, CitizenLink (a division of Focus on the Family) doesn’t agree.
CitizenLink posted a video interview with Stuart Shepard and U.S. Air Force Col. Bill Spencer discussing the issue. There are a few quotes from the video that I MUST comment on. You can read the quotes and my responses in blue.
“People [in the active military] will look at this issue and say…’I know what I feel morally about homosexuality and having to serve alongside people who now may want to put themselves ahead of that mission, might want to to have their identification come to the forefront as opposed to serve, just to serve as anyone else.’ On the front lines that’s important. When you’re in close quarters, when you’re in combat and bullets are hailing at you, that can be really problematic. You don’t want those second thoughts coming in on the front lines when people are shooting at you. You don’t want anybody having to hesitate wondering about the mission orientation of an openly gay person standing or sitting next to them.”
Now, I will be the first to concede that I have never had to dodge bullets, military or otherwise. However, I don’t think it’s a stretch to think that, should I be in that situation, I’m NOT thinking about your orientation. Again, I’ve never been shot at, but I think it’s a fair guess.
Steward Shephard: “By passing this repeal, essentially there are now going to be folks in the military where self is being placed slightly above service, that they’re being given a little special cover there that they can be open about their sexuality. How does that change the dynamic in the military?”
I have no idea how repealing DADT equals gay service members placing themselves over service. By that are we to assume that openly heterosexual service members are placing their open heterosexuality above service? Sheesh. Col. Spencer’s response is priceless…
Col. Spencer: “Well, really nothing’s changed, homosexuals have probably already served. (Really!? Yes, I bet they probably have.) I served for nearly 29 years, probably alongside some who were gay. I just didn’t know who they were. They put mission ahead of self. Now it’s not just about inclusion. We’ve already had inclusion. Those folks have already been serving. Now it’s about some self-identified label that’s come to the forefront. When you’re in a military that is supposed to fight and win our nation’s wars, that self-identification doesn’t contribute to mission effectiveness. It alters unit cohesion.”
Okay, where to begin? Let’s start with this… Are you kidding me right now?
On inclusion: Yes, we have already had inclusion. Remember when the military was segregated? Harry Truman took a lot of flak when he undid that. I don’t see this as that different.
On self-identified labels: Well, I agree with Col. Spencer on this one. Self-identified labels really do have a tendency to get in the way. For example, here is a list of some of the words I have used to self-identify. More than a few have gotten me into a pickle from time to time: Woman, Mom (and gasp, Working Mom), Wife, CHRISTIAN, Asian (I though about adding fat girl but I won’t go there).
Anyway, the idea that professional military men and women would place orientation (gay or straight) over military service and combat missions makes me sick. Gay service members love their country and take their call of duty just as seriously as their straight counterparts. To assume otherwise is both naive and bigoted.
“If you entered the service knowing that you are a homosexual and that homosexuality is incompatible with military service, then there really wasn’t an issue where you discovered suddenly that you were gay and in the military. It was something that you knew about going in; it was a condition that you agreed to, frankly, when you signed up”
So, according to this logic if you were an African-American looking to enlist pre-WWI attending a segregated Negro Training Camp, filling positions that black soldiers were allowed to fill, and living in segregated living quarters were all conditions that you knew you would have to submit to prior to enlisting. Should these men have continued under these conditions even though they knew what they were getting into before hand? Should segregation not have ended? I don’t get it. Just because DADT existed doesn’t mean it was ever the right thing to do.
You can watch the entire video below if you’d like (or if you want to verify the context).
At the end of the day here is my bottom line (for what it’s worth): I believe that these types of comments are hurtful. And harmful.
They are hurtful to the gay community and most importantly they are harmful to the Gospel message.
In the video Col. Spencer discusses that there is no data to measure whether or not repealing DADT will help or improve the way the military approaches and completes it’s mission. I think the more important question is, will this type of rhetoric about DADT help or improve the way christians carry out the cause for Christ? Will it help us to better share the Gospel message in a fallen world?
I say no, it won’t.