We are going to critically examine the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and conclude whether or not this is once again heterosexism at work or a legitimate consequence the military institution must undergo in order to function effectively.
We are also going to hold a mirror up to this institution, which espouses a code of honor, fidelity and courage, as well as a commitment to liberty. We will also investigate the multitude of inconsistencies that inflate the exclusionary decree of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
To begin, we need to understand the policy in a nutshell and what it precisely attempts to order. Luckily, the military’s entire code can be found on Cornell’s law Web site.
Below you will find the specific policies, sections and provisions that I will examine. For the sake of expediency they are listed together and labeled just as they are under Title 10, subtitle A, part II of chapter 37 and section 654 which regards all things concerning homosexual behavior in the military.
Though this document begins outlining behaviors before it even defines them, we will begin under section (f) of “Definitions,” where the military has defined the American homosexual. What is of particular note here is that one doesn’t even need to commit the crime to be guilty of it. In fact, this document makes it strikingly apparent that you are guilty before proven innocent under the indicting line, “... intends to engage in homosexual acts ... ”
Don’t all gays tacitly “intend” to engage in homosexual behavior? If it is by the nature of homosexuality to be attracted to the same gender, then why allow lesbian and gay people to serve at all if you are even going to deny them thought and inclination? The military does not offer any kind of legitimate chance for the lesbian and gay community to serve because even if one follows the rules by staying quiet and lying about who you are, you are still guilty of simply being.
It seems illogical that in a country such as ours anyone would be asked to do such a thing. I think few Americans understand the sacrifices that gay and lesbian servicemen make to defend this country. Such a denial of self is profound in its psychological consequences.
Regardless, this reminds me of the “Minority Report,” a movie with Tom Cruise where people were arrested before they committed any crime. It’s a suffocating request to make — even after being told to remain in the closet, gays and lesbians are then further pressured to even keep their thoughts deadened. One may consider theft; however, they should not be sent to prison for it. Though to be clear, I hardly believe the acts of mutual attraction and love between adults should warrant punishable offenses under any circumstance.
Let’s focus on the definition of a homosexual again: Anyone is gay who intends to engage in, engages in, or has a propensity for homosexual acts. Those are further detailed in provisions A and B beneath section (f) of “Definitions.” With these in mind, we will run into a variety of inconsistencies.
If we look under policy (b) of this masterful piece of work we can see that there are a series of exceptions to the rule when it comes to booting homosexuals from the service. If one is popular enough, useful enough, or has something the military needs or desires, the identity can be tolerated and potentially used against the person. In fact, policy (b) makes it very clear that homosexuality, far from actually being a legitimate disturbance, is little more than a pitfall that the armed forces can use to dispose summarily of whomever it pleases — especially because of the ambiguity of the crime.
Because one only needs to “intend” to engage in homosexual behavior, and because the definition of “homosexual acts” is defined so broadly, a meticulous and over-analytical examination of any number of human interactions could be construed as homosexual.