Friday, January 14, 2005
"In November, after a year of increasing discomfort, he handed his commander, Capt. James Finnochiaro, a written statement of his homosexuality. Finkenbinder was honorably discharged last month."OK, let me get this straight. Operating under the very well publicized and known policy that has come to be known as "don't ask - don't tell," Sgt. Finkenbinder decides to "tell" and is then outraged that the the Army responds as it is legally obliged to do. Yes, you read me right, legally obliged. You see, under federal law, it is still illegal for known homosexuals to serve in the Armed Forces. Now before anyone says "see, I told you the DoD was homophobic" let me remind you of one key point. The DoD can set its policy, but only Congress can change the law.
While it may be true that many in the DoD and in the services themselves don't want to open the door wide to openly gay service members, some out of prejudice but most, I believe, out of sincere concern for good order, discipline and force effectiveness, if Congress changed the law tomorrow I have no doubt every branch would almost immediately form working groups to develop both training and programs to make it work. Because that's what the DoD and the Armed Services do, follow the orders of the civilian leadership in the government.
So why, then, whenever you read a story about poor Timmy who got booted out for violating the terms of his contract the disdain, outrage and indignation is always directed at the Army, Navy, DoD, etc? I think it's because of two main reasons. First, for many on the left end of the political perspective, the region most gay-rights activists call home, the "Military" represents all that is evil and scary in the US government. The power, the secrecy, the guns and killing, I mean, they must be the "bad guys," right? This then makes them the well spring from which all bad things politically must have their genesis. The second echoes back the truism I mentioned earlier: the DoD follows orders. As such, when the people they represent and serve hurl ad hominem attacks, they are more like to just take it and move on.
So, my recommendation to all who don't like the "don't ask - don't tell" policy is to stop wasting your time crying about members who do "tell" and then get what was promised when they signed up. And certainly stop trying to present it as if it were a witch hunt or pogram. If you really don't like it, dig in and fight the battle where it can be won, in the legislature. Because from where I stand, if you're not addressing the issue to someone who can do something about it you're just bitching.