Monday, April 19, 2010

the end of don't ask, don't tell

I’m quite sure our female readers would be terribly uncomfortable taking a shower in a room with fifty or eighty men! They would understandably feel vulnerable, possibly threatened, and deem the situation a horrible violation of their privacy.

During the Democrat National Convention, as a member of the Colorado National Guard, my fellow soldiers and I showered daily in a common room with dozens of men. We also were housed in the massive drill hall of the Denver Armory – 400 men on cots, shoulder to shoulder under a single roof with no partitions. Privacy is a luxury in the armed forces, and is often discarded if the mission dictates. Tents, latrines, barracks, forward positions (“foxholes”) and the like are gender-segregated as much as possible to lessen the sexual opportunities and sexual unease between genders.
Yet sexual tensions, the unnerving lack of privacy, and the distress of confinement will explode with openly gay soldiers placed into the mix. What is the purpose of separate latrines, if not to prevent sexual tensions?

Would you consider having common latrines and showers for men and women? Of course not! And yet (short of having separate latrines/showers for men, women, gays, and lesbians) the end of ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ will place every soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine in an environment no different than forcing both genders to shower together. Last week, after serving in the National Guard for three years, I stepped away – not even considering reenlisting (nor will I until Obama is out of office.) I won’t be the last to leave over the elimination of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell!” The soldiers I’ve lived with, known, and talked to for three years are nearly unanimous in their disdain and frustration with this President and his inane policies… but they can’t speak because it is illegal to criticize or even disagree publicly with the Commander in Chief. I am no longer under that gag order, and I can tell you without hesitation that ‘friendly fire’ incidents, ‘code red’ blanket parties, an exodous of good soldiers, as well as the disintegration of troop cohesion will skyrocket as soon as ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is repealed!

We don’t blame civilians for this ill-conceived idea, we understand you can go home and enjoy your privacy as you use the toilet, or take a bubble bath; you aren’t privy to the overcrowded and intrusive nature of the military. But the next time you close that glass sliding door on your shower, ask yourself how you would feel if there were a homosexual, or heterosexual member of the opposite sex, showering right next to you.

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