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Passing on Passing Judgment

May 30, 2010

So the House and a “key” Senate panel voted to allow the Pentagon to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell at a time of its choosing (if it even wants to at all).  Some have always considered it “bigoted”; I never thought it was any more bigoted than opposition to same-sex marriage, which of course a lot of people also consider bigoted.  I used to believe that allowing gays to openly serve in the military would be a bad idea basically because of the “unit cohesion” argument.  That is, I figured that a unit would not function as it properly should—e.g., perhaps jealousies would develop or morale would be threatened because of real or perceived sexual activity—if relationships were to develop amongst soldiers that were extracurricular to simply being in a military unit with each other.  That said, Ron Paul, one of the five Republicans who voted to allow the appeal, said something the other day that I found myself agreeing with:

“I have received several calls and visits from constituents who, in spite of the heavy investment in their training, have been forced out of the military simply because they were discovered to be homosexual,” Paul said Friday. “To me, this seems like an awful waste. Personal behavior that is disruptive should be subject to military discipline regardless of whether the individual is heterosexual or homosexual. But to discharge an otherwise well-trained, professional, and highly skilled member of the military for these reasons is unfortunate and makes no financial sense.”

Drinks on me, Ron.  Unlike most things political, I’ve realized that you actually have to be in the military to understand why or why not this policy makes sense.  It’s not like health insurance or welfare—no, I’ve never been on either, but that doesn’t mean I have to express some extra sympathy for those who are (much less vote to contribute more taxpayer dollars to the funding of those without) just because it’s hard to not have health insurance or need welfare.   I, however, have never been in the military.  Although it seems likely to me that allowing gays to serve openly in the military might threaten whatever the correct definition of “unit cohesion” is, I don’t actually know that because I’ve never served in the military.  So, basically, I have no idea.

And what Ron Paul said makes a lot of sense.  It is a big waste of money to train a soldier for years only to boot him out later because he’s gay.  So a) I have no idea whether allowing gays to serve would be bad for the military and b) barring them from serving squanders cash.  Seems like an issue best left to the guys who actually know the military (i.e., the military itself) to me.  If it gets repealed, so be it.

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