It was only a matter of time before the logical dominant argument for lifting 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' would rise to the surface...the fact that our allies have had no problem making the transition. Today's AP has a great report that examines the successful integration of gays in Great Britain, Australia and Israel. This is then contrasted with a whole new set of bogus charges by homophobes in the American military.
Some of the highlights from the article, prominently featured today at the Washington Post website, includes the following:
In Britain, on the other hand, uniformed gay and lesbian service members marched in the annual Pride London parade July 4. Gay Australian soldiers and sailors had their own float in Sydney's Gay Mardi Gras parade. In Israel, the army magazine earlier this year featured two male soldiers on the cover, hugging one another.
It is hard to be more battle-tested than the Israeli military, where gays have served openly since 1993. The article reports,
Maj. Yoni Schoenfeld, a gay officer who is the editor of the military magazine, Bamahane, said there was little friction in the ranks related to gay soldiers.
He served as a combat soldier and as commander of a paratrooper company, and said his sexual orientation - though known to fellow soldiers - was never an issue.
Schoenfeld's magazine has reflected the evolving attitudes. In 2001, it was shut down briefly after featuring an interview with a retired colonel who had come out of the closet. Yet this year, there was no adverse reaction to the cover picture of two male soldiers embracing.
The military also provided the backdrop for the 2002 movie "Yossi & Jagger" about two Israeli combat soldiers who fall in love on the front lines. It was a hit with critics and the public, and was even screened on military bases.
The lifting of the ban was preceded by heated debate, yet the change itself was relatively uneventful.
Among opponents of the change at the time was Australia's main veterans group, which later withdrew its objections.
The group's president, retired Maj. Gen. Bill Crews, said concerns about lowered morale and HIV transmission on the battlefield proved ill-founded.
"I thought there'd be a continuing problem because of prejudice that exists in parts of the community," Crews said. "I don't see any evidence now that homosexuals are in any way discriminated against. ...A homosexual can be just as effective a soldier as a heterosexual."
Regarding Britain's experience since the change occurred 10 years ago,
At the time, there was significant opposition to the change among military officers. There were predictions that unit cohesion would suffer and that large numbers of personnel would leave the military if gays could serve.
Lord Alan West, former head of the Royal Navy and now Britain's terrorism minister, served before and after the ban was lifted.
"It's much better where we are now," West said. "For countries that don't do that - I don't believe it's got anything to do with how efficient or capable their forces will be. It's to do with other prejudices, I'm afraid."
Lord West added that "Americans really need to make the move."
Because the global example has refuted the allegations by homophobes in the military, there is new pompous, isolationist rhetoric being provided by the bigots in charge.
The AP article features the following lunacy:
"Who's the only superpower military out there?" argued Maj. Brian Maue, a professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy, in a debate in June in Chicago. "This is hardly convincing to say, 'Ah, the others are doing it. We should too.'"
I am sure Israel appreciated hearing that. Not to mention, every other NATO member but Turkey. And further,
Maue - who says he's been speaking out on his own, not as a military spokesman - also suggested in an online forum that "an openly gay military would be the heterosexual equivalent to forcing women to constantly share bathrooms, locker rooms and bedrooms with men."
Retired Army Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis, is alleged to have disparaged the integration of gays in the military of our allies, without offering a shred of evidence. He adds,
Repealing the U.S. ban would trigger the departure of some career service members who object to homosexuality and deter some people from enlisting.
I wonder how many similar comments were made when our military was first subject to racial integration?
The AP article refers to Pennsylvannia Rep. Daniel Murphy's leadership in trying to get DADT repealed. Murphy, a Democrat and the first Iraq war veteran to gain election to Congress, had this to say,
"I take it as a personal affront to our warriors," he said. "To say that other countries' soldiers are professional enough to handle this and American soldiers aren't is really a slap in the face."
The last word in the AP story is given to Iraq war veteran, Army National Guard Lt. Dan Choi. Choi is facing dismissal under the DADT ban. He says,
"...don't ask" forces gays who are serving to be furtive and dishonest.
"Closeting is what causes instability," he said. "It's the most toxic poison."
As for the U.S. being different from its allies, Choi agrees.
"We are exceptional - because we take the lead on things," he said. "To me, it's an insult to the idea of American exceptionalism to say we're somehow scared of gays."
Read the full article and pass it along. It can be found here.