The Spectacle Blog

Thoughts on DADT Repeal

By on 12.19.10 | 2:57AM

Let me state right off the bat that I agree with the Senate's decision to repeal DADT.

Frankly, I find arguments against allowing gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military are neither compelling nor convincing.

Earlier today, I was following the debate between John Guardiano and John Tabin over the merits of repealing DADT and was struck by this passage Guardiano wrote in response to Tabin:

Why, then, have the ban on openly gay service in the first place?

Because sexual dynamics are inherently disruptive and you want to keep these dynamics in check. Because sexuality is a behavioral characteristic which can and does shape human behavior, and in profound and often unsettling ways. And because in the Marines, infantry and other combat arms especially, esprit de corps requires a strong sense of brotherly love, not same-sex attraction and allure.

Homosexuality, in fact, is incompatible with a shared sense of manhood and masculinity that binds infantry units together into a brotherhood. Hence the reasonable compromise measure, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which allows gay men and women to serve, albeit discreetly.

I find Guardiano's reasoning to be flawed.  First, Guardiano argues that admitting military personnel who are openly gay undermines comradery.  But that argument is predicated on the assumption that because someone is gay thus he or she is automatically attracted to every single member of the same sex.  Are men physically attracted to all women?  Are women physically attracted to all men? The answer is an emphatic no.  So where is it written that all gay men must be physically attracted to every man in the universe?  Indeed, the same question can be applied to lesbians.  The answer is an equally emphatic no. 

Now I don't deny there are our military personnel who have reservations about homosexuality.  As such I don't doubt that some of our military personnel would be uncomfortable serving with those who are openly gay.  But I think that says more about the character of uncomfortable military personnel than it does about the soldier who is openly gay.  The only reason a soldier would be uncomfortable serving with a soldier who is gay is the fear of the gay soldier making unwanted advances towards him or her.  Again, we have an underlying assumption that the gay soldier is automatically attracted to every single member of the same sex.  It is an assumption that rests on a foundation of arrogance, conceit, fear and irrationality.

The second flaw in Guardiano's argument is his assertion that homosexuality is incompatible with military service but finds DADT an acceptable compromise.  So let's see if I get this straight.  Let us say you have soldier has served with distinction in combat, has demonstrated leadership skills and is respected by those both superior and subordinate in rank.  But then it is found out that soldier is gay.  Is that soldier suddenly rendered incompetent?  Are all his combat achievements negated?  Is the respect he has earned wiped out?  Of course not.  Or at least it shouldn't be.  But if a soldier is rendered incompetent, has his combat achievements and loses the respect of his superiors and subordinates then that tells me the military values sexual orientation over competence and character. 

If that is the case then let us not forget that it was no less a figure than Barry Goldwater, who in opposition to DADT when it was first proposed in 1993, said, "You don't have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight."

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