SmagBoy's Mission Log, Sea Date: Late October, 2009

Hey all. The purpose of this section is to serve as a central hub for any regular blogs I undertake, but also for me to show you a little bit of the real me, not "The Submariner" me. I'm not really that guy. He's a character that I play on Thursdays (a character that I really enjoy--you can read more about him in my post below, titled "The Making of a Submariner"). So, on occasion, I'll publish a story or some pictures, or maybe just an anecdote or two that I hope will be fun or enlightening.

If you don't care for learning about the really-real SmagBoy and just want "The Submariner", no worries! He can always be reached here: smagboy1@gmail.com. Send in your questions, observations, concerns or rants. But be forewarned, as you know, that guy has very little patience for the stupids. You can send questions to me there, too, the non-fictional SmagBoy1 (or "Smaggie" as I'm affectionately known). Don't worry, I'm not nearly as tough as I pretend to be. Fair winds to you, shippers! And enjoy!

Friday, May 28, 2010

You Are All Heroes (Unless, You Know, You're Gay)...

For those of you who do not know, the US Military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy allows homosexual men and women to serve in the US Armed Forces, but, requires that they do not divulge or allow to be divulged their sexual orientation to anyone in the military. Regardless of service history, if it is found out that a homosexual is serving, he or she is unceremoniously processed out of the military.  There is no waiver.

In support of one of President Obama's initiatives, our congress is currently considering arguments to repeal DADT. This would pave the way for homosexual servicemen and servicewomen to serve openly. As a result, Senator Maverick “John” McCain and the Republicans are planning to filibuster the entire defense budget bill to stop the repeal of DADT. That’s right, they’re willing to delay the funding of the entire Department of Defense so that our country won’t have to allow gays to serve openly in the military. And sadly, it is very likely they’ll be successful in causing the DADT repeal discussion to be pulled from the table.

Now, whether or not you believe homosexuality is a lifestyle choice or biological imperative, I ask you this: how can we allow a policy that desires and even encourages any and all able bodied young men and women to serve, honor and even die for their country, but tell them that, in order to do so, in order to lay down their lives for our freedom, they must not speak of their sexual orientation. Remember, DADT and its repeal is not about changing military operations, requirements or operational rules. It’s not about anything other than simple human dignity.

We have an interesting habit of calling all of our service men and women “heroes” and thanking them for their service. People frequently stop me in public when I wear one of my submarine command ball caps and thank me for my service.  This always makes me uncomfortable, but it always makes me smile, too.  What does it say, then, to lesbian Sgt. Jene Newsome that, even though she, too, served her country honorably, when police entered her home looking for someone else, and, upon seeing her marriage certificate, informed the Air Force of her sexual orientation (even though she was not being investigated?!), the Air Force discharged her, stripping her of her hero status? Based entirely on her sexual orientation?! Sadly, her story is not an anomaly. She will have no retirement from the military. She will not be allowed to wear her uniform with pride. Her service to our country as a hero is now erased. Why?

You may ask, “How can we have gay men and women openly serving in the military? Won’t that affect things somehow?” My answer is that sexual orientation deserves no less respect or empathy than skin color, religion, or national/cultural background. Can you imagine a military policy that allowed blacks to serve, but that required them to wear makeup at all times, or to undergo bleaching treatment, such that they looked white? “You can serve honorably, Sir, but you have to wear this makeup at all times, or, if you have the financial ability, you can undergo skin bleaching treatment.” How is DADT any different? The military currently stamps into dog tags a service member’s religion of choice. Can you imagine a military policy that forbade any and all religious practice, literature or even discussion of religious topics, and, if it was found out that a member attended church, even sneaking to do so in private, he/she was immediately processed out?

DADT, and any other policy forbidding the open service of homosexuals is no different than enacting a policy against membership in a religion or against any skin color but white. It is horrific, it is discriminatory, and it is wrong. Mavericky McCain and his Republican lambs? They ought to be ashamed of themselves. And if you count yourself among their party and have not voiced your dissent to them on this issue, so should you.

****Thoughts? Comments? Concerns? Leave them all in the comment section, below!

12 comments:

  1. Well, Smag... There really aren't words adequate for how appalling I find this situation. What exactly does "serve openly" entail? Being able to talk about your loved ones back home? I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but I'm sure you were aware when you served that you were surrounded by gays. It's not like DADT eradicted them. Are you hearing this McCain? THE MILITARY IS FULL OF GAYS!!! So take your fingers out of your ears and quit going lalalalalalala...

    I don't mean to start a tangent but it irritates me to no end when someone refers to a member of the armed forces as a "hero" and "thanks them for their service". Most people who join the armed forces that I know of haven't an altruistic bone in their body ~ they go in looking to get a paycheck and because their options are limited in other areas. They aren't any more "heroic" than I am, doing what I'd rather not be doing every day just to earn a paycheck.

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  2. MM, as you know, I agree with you on the "hero" status, and discussed it in far greater detail in another article than I did in this article. See said discussion here: http://smagboy1.blogspot.com/2010/03/women-on-submarines-say-it-isnt-so.html.

    As for gays serving in the military, though, what ever do you mean? You mean, when I was on the submarine there were gay guys out there with me?! Oh my! Whatever will I do?! ;-)

    Yeah, good ol' John McMaverick is beyond saving now. I used to like him, used to think he stood for something. I see he's completely broken now, a tool of right and whatever he thinks is their cause du jour.

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  3. Smag, my father is sometimes guilty of forgetting that gays are people too, and it drives me batty.

    Recently he was telling me a story, that was supposed to be amusing and show how gays in the military would be the downfall of America. Apparently he was listening to some talk radio show, a la Glenn Beck (I don't think it was, but that type) and the host was talking about the potential repeal of DADT, and wanted people who had served/were serving in the armed forces to call in and give *their* viewpoint. So apparently there were all sorts of stories going back to WWII of men who were obviously more interested in other men than women, and how sometimes in the barracks a couple of the guys would be going at it, etc.

    So as my dad's telling me this, supposedly as a cautionary tale about how dangerous openly gay people serving would be, I couldn't help but think, if "the greatest generation" managed to put paid to the Axis powers while having men who were so openly gay as to fuck in the barracks, surely openly gay people in the military can't be the end of civilization. Which then led me to wonder how long these stories will be told to those who are so far lost in their -ism regarding homosexuality before they finally get the point.

    As for McCain, I hated, with a purple passion, that he was the "option" other than Obama. So I got to choose between someone who I felt was not being completely honest, or completely realistic, I wasn't certain which; or someone who is a fucking blade of grass in the breeze, power hungry, do whatever I have to do in order to get more power/status. It was beyond frustrating for me. McCain's record isn't just that he's a tool of the right and their cause du jour, as much as he's a tool of whomever it seems the public may be swaying toward in the next election. Right now "Tea Partiers" are getting so much press, and the country is generally dissatisfied with life, so the party in power is likely to suffer some hits in the coming election, if history is an indicator, so he's throwing in with the minority party's policy stances, hoping to shore up enough votes to get re-elected. Of course, me, I'm so fed up that my voting this election, at a minimum - if not the next several, will be "not the incumbent."

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  4. Smaggy, I so agree with you! The policy is shameful and regardless of the "don't tell" it opens gays to all sorts of abuses as in the tragic example you cited.

    I like your agument about black people being asked to wear white make up to serve. I remember reading all the objections to integrating the armed forces and they sounded eerily similar to the ones made against gays. I seem to recall that we have Truman to thank of that integration. He probably used some of his usual choice words which I'm sure would apply now as well...

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  5. On a picnic in Congressional Cemetery one afternoon many years ago, never having heard of this particular person or his story before, I happened to walk past the tombstone of Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich. There is no name on his tombstone; it simply reads:

    "When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one."

    Whenever I hear people who ought to know better grumbling about how gays are all that is wrong with the world and that DADT should not be repealed, I think of this.

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  6. Ahoy, Libby! Your father sounds like several of my friends. They say, "I don't want some gay in the shower, giving me the eye, you know, with a raging hard on!" And I just look at them. I say, "So, you do know that gays currently serve, right? And you'd rather them forced into the closet coveting your massively sexy body, or would you rather them out?" They don't get either point of my statement (that, a) they aren't all that, and, just like hetero people, sex is, amazingly, not the only thing on everyone's mind, 24/7, and, b) if they think of gays as "bad", isn't it better to know who's "bad" than not?). Apparently, logic isn't a strong suit of bigots. Oh well, you have my sympathy. My father, a Viet Nam veteran, is one of my greatest influences.

    Cheers! :-)

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  7. Greetings, Kati. I'm glad that you like that argument. I wasn't sure if I should include it or not because many conservatives say that being gay is a choice and skin color is not (that's why I included the religious discrimination point), but, like you, I think the skin color comparison is particularly apt.

    Good cheer! :-)

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  8. Ahoy, Jackal! Long time no see! :-) Thank you for your great post. I'd never heard of Leonard Matlovich, but, after reading your post, I googled him and learned quite a bit. Thank you for the great imagery and new information/wrinkle in my brain!

    Cheers! :-)

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  9. The truly ironic thing, Smag, is my father's otherwise bigotry-free way of interacting with people was the biggest influence in my life showing me that people are people are people.

    And Jackal, I want to join in saying thanks for the new info. =-D

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  10. I agree wholeheartedly with your points, Smag, and those of the other Flysters.

    There are some people who, despite all evidence, continue to think that LGBT folks are ravening, uncontrolled, raping beasts. All them gays are after any bit of ass they can grab. Why an overly hairy, obese jerk with three teeth and as many brain cells thinks that every gay man on earth is dying to nail him, I'll never fully grok.

    When DADT first came into being, I thought it was a good step. I thought it meant that as long as the person serving didn't formally announce (perhaps in writing) their orientation, that our military wouldn't go snooping around after this knowledge. How wrong I was.

    Some folks also don't seem to get that there are ALREADY many regulations regarding fraternization among the ranks. These would not change just because of fairness in hiring policies.

    Thanks once again for your thoughts!

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  11. I am 100% with you on this one. 2 of my kids are in the army, one a E-6, the other an officer-in-training up the Hudson. My E-6 could give a rat's ass if anyone on his team was gay. He is more interested in getting his team to meet the objective and get the job done with everyone returning safely. He says it's all political and just gives a few neanderthals at CID a sense of power to ruin careers. My cadet wants to go MP and better believe her Big Bro is filling her ears about that!

    My Dad, who if you get a drink or 2 in him, would talk about his WWII experiences. He was a flight instruction down in Dothan AL. He once told me that his best student was gay, but he was such a good pilot, nobody gave him any flak - pilots were in short supply!

    On a related note - you should hear (Read?) the homophobic rantings about this sitution here in Chas, SC. If you get outside of Columbia or Charleston, it's open season on gays. It's been tough to be a liberal South Carolinian this year......

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  12. I think the DODT stuff is complete crap, as I think any kind of discrimination against gays is complete crap.

    I am interested, though, in your shower idea (for women serving on submarines). Wouldn't that shower idea sort of help out the homophobic people? I happen to know a few (in my extended family) and I think it might appeal to the less unreasonable of them....They are all fairly unreasonable but the LESS unreasonable might see that as a viable 'solution' to the problem of being ogled in the shower (LOL),

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