Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Some can't go home, others can't serve.

It has to be sad to think of the soldiers on their way home from Iraq when Donald Rumsfeld ordered them to return to Iraq for another 4 months of duty. It is sad to think of their families, the wives who won’t see their husbands for four more months or sooner in a casket. Children without fathers, Broken families. Meanwhile the military is throwing out gay soldiers willing to serve. Does it make sense?

Last year, Fort Campbell alone, discharged 49 soldiers for being gay. They only managed to find 19 the year before. In 1999 a soldier there was murdered by an anti-gay soldier who erroneously thought his victim was gay. The response of the military was to blame the victims and increase the number of discharges of people for being gay. This would be like the old south dealing with the problem of lynchings by deporting blacks.

At the Marine base in Parris Island, 22 Marines were discharged because of their sexual orientation. At the Norfolk Naval Station 35 sailors were discharged for the same reason. And it has been estimated that the cost of replacing these individuals has been in the range of $369 million. But Bush doesn't mind spend money -- lots of it. The more the better.

Last year the military threw out 726 soldiers for being gay. That’s 11 percent more than the previous year. It should be noted that under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy some 11,000 service members have been removed from duty.

The military has discharged dozens of badly needed Arabic translators from the military because they are gay. Under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell one is supposed to be able to serve provided they don’t tell anyone they gay and the military is not supposed to ask. Of course if they find out in other ways they didn’t ask and the individual can still be discharged.

Sargeant Bleu Copas was stationed at Fort Bragg and followed the policy. But someone sent an anonymous email claiming he was gay. He was discharged. Copas enlisted after the 9/11 attacks and was a proficient Arabic translator having studied at the Defense Language Institute. Now the military is short another translator to keep Christianists happy. Actually he was just one of 55 Arabic translators who have been dismissed for being gay. Hey, it's not like the US needs Arabic translators.

Like their fellow Islamic fundamentalists, the Christianist Right is vehemently opposed to gay people to the point of being obsessive. A student at the US military academy at West Point wrote a thesis subtitled “A Philosophical Analysis of the Gay Ban in the US Military. He won a West Point award for the quality of his work.

The student, Alexander Raggio, who is heterosexual said that a relative of his is gay, something he discovered when in his teens. He was displeased to see the pain the relative was forced to go through because of it and that got him thinking about the military ban. Officials at West Point said he received the award becuase it “was a closely argued piece of philosophical prose. He tackled a substantive issue, took a stand, and didn’t back down from the controversy. He presented a good case.”

Yet a Christian conservative group has demanded an investigation of the award because of the position taken.

Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness went on American Family Radio to denounce the student and the award. “I question the judgment of the leadership at West Point, who would recognize such an essay and give it an award that can be used contrary to military policy.” Perhaps they won’t be satisfied with merely throwing out gay people but want to throw out people who don’t want to throw out gay people? Meanwhile there are families who don’t see their loved ones because people willing and able to serve are forbidden from doing so.

The photo is of Mr. Copas.