Wednesday, July 21, 2010

One more reason to repeal DADT

Another re-posting of a comment made elsewhere. This time, it's about a story from Dispatches on why to repeal the Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) policy of homosexuals serving the US Military. Ed posted a clip from The Rachel Maddow Show of an interview with Air Force Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, a 19-year veteran and fighter pilot, who was outed, and is now waiting to see whether he will be forced into a "separation from the military":

My comment on that site:
One thing that isn't (imo) emphasized enough is that Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach was playing by rules of DADT. He wasn't trying to make a point about his sexual orientation. He was doing his job -- apparently very successfully -- and was outed by a civilian's claim against him.

That he has become an extremely competent speaker for gay rights in the military is -- it seems to me -- due to the fact that he was outed and effectively forced to become one. Furthermore, I think that the quality and length of his service is something that speaks for itself, and allows him to easily be heard above the braying of the keep-DADT-alive crowd. It's a very different thing than when a Lt. comes out on cable TV, as Lt. Dan Choi did on the Rachel Maddow show back in March of 2009. In contrast to Fehrenbach, Lt. Choi didn't have as many years' service; wasn't a decorated fighter pilot; and decided not to follow the rules of DADT.

I'm not saying that what Lt. Dan Choi did was wrong, just it makes him more easy to dismiss by anti-gay groups, since Choi is "merely" a Lt. with "only" two years of service in Iraq, is "merely" a translator, and "clearly" failed to follow the orders laid out in DADT. (I'm using the quote marks to imply how some might try and denigrate his service, the importance of his training, and his motives, and thereby belittle his standing in a debate.)

Still, I see the Lt. Col. as a much more difficult person to brush off by supporters of DADT. Hopefully, it will be through him and other capable soldiers who were trying to follow DADT on the one side as well as people like Choi and members of Knights Out who actively came out against it that DADT will be forced to be repealed.

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