ALVIN S. SIMPLETON SAYS LET THEM SERVE

As an ex-navy man, I’ve thought a lot about whether gays should be allowed to serve their country in the military. It was an open secret that one or two men on the ship I was on were gay in the mid-1950s. None of us resented the men. They did their jobs and did them well.

The don’t ask, don’t tell rule doesn’t always work. For instance, if someone sees a person who is off duty engaging in sexual activity with another person of the same sex and tells the commanding officer, the commanding officer calls the offender into his office and asks him if it is true. Now, technically, the commanding officer shouldn’t ask, and the offender shouldn’t have to answer. But he or she had better answer or be charged with insubordination.

Why doesn’t the rule apply to a witness?

I don’t like the situation of gays in the military being compared to the situation of African Americans in segregated units before President Truman ordered integration. We African Americans were allowed to serve (except, of course, for gays) but in segregated units. Today gays are barred from serving.

However, the same excused used to keep the military segregated is being used today by those who don’t like the idea of gays serving their country: it will negatively affect unit cohesion.

No one has presented any evidence that this is true. In fact, evidence from foreign militaries suggests it is a false assumption.

We must take advantage of the talents of the young gay men and women who want to serve their country in the military.

Strike the don’t ask, don’t tell rule from the books.

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