I had some thoughts for a while that I have been chewing over.
I am a GLBTQ ally, and I am trying to be more educated on the T part of that. It’s been a lot of STFU&L for me, and very little else at the moment. But, I am trying.
I think the hot button issue seems to be same sex marriage, at least that is the one that is getting all the press and all the attention. I think it is important. Very. I think it is vital to having equality for all people. One type of union for all those who choose to be part of it, and the same benefits and responsibilities for those don’t (after all, even my hetero marriage is a matter of necessity, which is a privilege I acknowledge. Do I think it is the most important issue WRT gay rights and civil equality? Not even close. It turns out that I am not alone on this. I have long been afraid to broach it, because I don’t want to seem as though I don’t think it’s important. Like I said, I don’t think we can have equality so long as a type of union is offered to a certain group of people while it is withheld from others.
I agree that I think we should be focusing at least as much effort, and IMHO more, on making sure that people are protected from harm. Harm from hate groups, from losing their livelihood, harm from having their lives torn apart simply because of who they are. Smash the State is a pretty good thought train, if you ask me.
Where I disagree with Monica, respectfully so (for I have come to have mad respect for this lady!), is conflating of DADT with marriage equality or repealing of DOMA in criticisms of President Obama (full disclosure: I was not an Obama supporter in the primaries). I don’t believe that marriage equality is on equal ground with DADT. To me, so take it for what it is worth, DADT is right up there with ENDA and other protections, such as the Matthew Shepard act and other hate crime legislation, many of which I believe we should be demanding more in regards to including Trans people in those protections.
DADT as it stand leaves a section of people completely unprotected. Sure, as long as you are willing to hide your identity, you can keep your job you’ll be fine so long as everyone you work with doesn’t desire to pry into your life. Isn’t that true of any job before ENDA and other similar measures were brought into play? Any one who has served in the military can tell you the lengthy training we are all subjected to on DADT. A good number of us could probably also tell you that the majority of that training seems less focused on protecting anyone from discrimination and more on how to properly report it for investigation and the way to go about flushing out your witch…so to speak. And a witch hunt it is. Any rumor that you might be homosexual to the wrong superior and your life is turned upside down and inside out as your friends, co-workers, supervisors, family, and anyone else they feel they want to talk to about you and your personal life are sought out and questioned at length. That’s the policy, and that is what we are trained to understand.
Many people have seen in the news not so long ago about the high number of discharges from the military under DADT. A good number of these are Dishonorable Discharges, depending on the command a service member belonged to and how that command chooses to pursue the suspicion. A Dishonorable, or anything, honestly, that isn’t an Honorable Discharge, is going to haunt them for the rest of their lives. Long story short, they are being discharged for lying. DADT was passed as a way to appease Congress when Conservative blowhards refused to allow policy where your sexual orientation not only didn’t matter, but was nobody’s damned business. It was something of a compromise, albeit a really really shitty one. The original intent was that homosexual people could serve in the military and not have their sexuality come up or be anyone’s business, as opposed to being asked up front and denied the opportunity to serve their country. This was unacceptable to many in Congress and those who oversaw policy that guiding Military Readiness at the time, and still is today. Sure, DADT was supposed to protect from that, but in military speak, withholding a truth is the same as lying. If someone thinks you are gay, it is every service member’s patriotic duty to report you. If it is discovered that you ARE in fact a dirty homosexual and someone knew and didn’t report you then they are in trouble as well. Then let us not forget how you defrauded the US military, and now must be shunned from any potential employment that has any kind of government tie. Did you know that many fast food restaurants will not be able to hire someone with an other than honorable discharge? McDonald’s, Burger King, Popeye’s, KFC all have government contracts, having restaurants on many military bases world wide. That makes their employment all but closed to these people being booted out for the simple crime of being themselves. There is a common misconception that a Dishonorable Discharge is only for those who have committed felonies or grievous crimes…but in the military the idea of what is and is not a grievous crime is far different from what the civilian world feels it is. And some commands may choose to act more harshly based on who is in charge.
You also can not get federal aide with Other than Honorable or lower Discharges. Student loans, financial aide, grants, even your GI Bill (which you pay into with no refund option) can all be withheld from you. So, someone tell me how being discharged from the military simply because you happen to like someone of the same sex isn’t a big deal, isn’t worthy of our President’s attention. The military needs its own version if ENDA, and it needs it twelve years ago, to include trans people, who you can be sure are already serving proudly with no one the wiser.
Even fiscal sticklers should see the logic in this. How many of the service members discharged under DADT were in specialized jobs? Linguists? Nukes? SpecWar? How many were officers having recently graduated from institutions like West Point or the Naval Academy? My military training alone sang to the tune of a few million a year (I went to the longest A school the Navy offers and was there for two years), and that was without the very thorough background check involved for the clearance required for the training and the job. The military is literally siphoning money into the training of these individuals only to throw them out on their asses because John had a boyfriend. Guess what? They have to replace and train those bodies.
While I want to live in a world where equality is offered to all I see the need to prioritize because this stuff is going to take time. It isn’t all going to happen at once and it isn’t going to happen over night. I have been told my whole life to pick my battles, and while I definitely want to see DOMA repealed and marriage equality (and rights for civil unions and unmarried committed couples) for all, including military families, I am not so dense as to think that it is more important than making sure that these same people are able to support themselves and their families and to protect themselves from discrimination. That they are able to do jobs that they are capable of doing and are good at doing without fear of being cast aside because someone thinks their life or body is icky and unworthy of respect. I want it all, but some things need to come first, and I draw that line at protection of livelihood and freedom from fear of losing a job or a career over sexual orientation or what lies inside your uniform.
This is what I want, and these are the kinds of things our President promised when he was still a candidate. And I would demand a fulfillment of this from any candidate who promised the same, because it was something that mattered to me when it came down to how I cast my vote. This specifically is one of the issues that set him apart from McCain/Palin for me…that he promised to have concern for the equality of these people that they were willing to cast aside. Now I am demanding some action to back that up. I don’t think it is too much to ask that our President give a damn, enough of one to do something that is within his power to do, to protect these people from the unfair treatment that has been going on for so long,not to these brave people who have put Country before self and have sworn to serve him, our Commander in Chief unquestioningly. Sure, it’s only been not quite seven months, but DADT was signed into effect mere days after Clinton took office. It has already been years too long for DADT to exist.
The military has a good record for diversity. With few (to some, huge) exceptions there is almost no limitation put upon a person’s job options based on race, gender, or religion. Racism is one thing that will get you kicked out of boot camp quicker than you can breathe “Aye-aye, Petty Officer” and sexual harassment and assault is a good way to get Courts Martial. They are serious about discrimination in the workplace and how it affects our Nation’s readiness. It is long past time for them to throw the door wide and acknowledge this too.
President Obama, I demand that you pay attention and put more effort into repealing DADT and pushing ENDA guidelines without excluding trans people from either of those. And then I demand that you look to fulfilling more of the promises you made, and maybe bettering the ones you didn’t.
I wish I had an appropriate LOLcat to put with this post. If anyone comes up with one I’d be appreciative.