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Don't Ask. Don't Care.

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Let me paint a little picture for you. We have two men – Joe Shmo and Daniel Choi – both of whom are lieutenants in the United States military. On the one hand, we have Joe. Joe’s a high school dropout who lacks both intelligence and courage. On the other hand, there is Daniel Choi. Now Choi is a graduate from the prestigious West Point academy. He is a master of the Arabic language and has proven his willingness to die for his country through his service on the front lines of Iraq. However, under this country’s “Don’t ask Don’t Tell” policy, men and women as valuable as Choi are deemed incapable of serving our country as proudly and successfully as the Joe Shmos. You see, Joe is straight and Choi is gay. And according to our government and military, Choi’s homosexuality is a fundamental character flaw that, regardless of his intellectual prowess, makes him unworthy to serve in the armed forces. These blatant homophobic and prejudicial actions by our country must be stopped.

Even though Lieutenant Daniel Choi is the kind of person that the United States military needs at a time of war, the likes of which we are currently in, Choi has recently been delivered his formal discharge letter after coming out of the closet on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show. The discharge is under the grounds that Choi violated DADT by his public revelation.

The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy declares that anyone who “demonstrates a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts” may not serve in the armed forces of the United States because “it would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.” This is the government’s “kind” way of saying that gay people are weird and that that weirdness would ruin the military for everyone else. Apparently they think that any skills that a gay, lesbian, or bisexual person brings to the table are completely off set by their sexual orientation.

I understand that at the time of its enactment, the law was not just a homophobic attempt to segregate homosexuals and heterosexuals, but an attempt to also protect gay and lesbian service members from extreme hazing and abuse from their straight counterparts. But the time for that form of segregation is over. There will always be those extremely conservative individuals afraid of change and refusing to open their minds up to the ways of our current world. They always have and always will exist.

However, as a country, it is clear that we are ready to move ahead and leave this discrimination behind us. A 2008 Washington Post – ABC News Poll revealed that 75% of people are in favor of gays serving openly in the military. This is because the American people are not stupid. They understand that just because a person is gay does not mean they are going to flaunt their sexuality in the faces of the world.

But public opinion has not seemed to have an effect. Since the enactment of the policy by Bill Clinton, over 13,000 soldiers have been discharged. In 2008 alone, 619 soldiers were informed of their dismissal – 410 men and 209 women. Those are 13,000 brave men and women who wanted nothing more that to serve their country and protect those that reside there. And what did the military do in return for that brave service? They said, “Thanks for the offer, but we don’t take too kindly to your kind of folk around here”. Way to support our troops.

President Obama has promised that he will revoke the policy as soon as he can. And that is exactly what needs to happen. But what I am more worried about is that this policy has been going on for over 15 years without having already been removed. Is the homophobia and completely unconstitutional segregation not obvious? It’s a blatant case of “Some of you can do this because you’re ‘normal’, but some of you can’t do this because you’re ‘different’”. Did we as Americans learn nothing from the civil rights movement of the 60’s?

I don’t care if you are male or female. I don’t care if you are black or white. I don’t care if you are a transgender who is all the colors of the rainbow. And it does not matter to me if you are gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Sexuality is just one aspect out of millions that makes each and every one of us unique. If you are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect myself and millions of others through your service to the U.S, that is what I care about. Screw Joe Shmo. I would choose Daniel Choi as my representation of the true American soldier over him any day.




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the_Horsegirl This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 22, 2010 at 4:51 pm:
I agree with both comments already submitted: This is a well organized and compellingly argued piece. Very, very nice!
 
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crawfordkid This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 25, 2010 at 3:30 pm:
Wonderful article trshock.  Definitely better reasoned out and supported than many opinion articles I've seen on here. A+ for you! Kudos...
 
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alwayswriting14 said...
Mar. 2, 2010 at 6:10 pm:
This was so interesting!!!! You haqve a very good method for engaging the reader and continuing to make them think throughout your side of the story. I agree with you wholeheartedly. We are America and America needs to act better than that. It is not fair that a person's sexuality does not determine whether or not they can fight for their country.
 
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