Today in My History

2000:  World AIDS Day
2001:  Dear Wisdom
2002:  Serendipity
2003:  A New Look...An Old Message
2004:  Sometimes I Make Good Choices
2005
Shirking My Civic Duty

2006Memories with a Cherry on Top


My 2007 Holiday Letter


IN MY OPINION
Every Christmas Story Ever Told

Books Read in 2007
 
Updated: 11/17
"Second Chances"




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Cousins Day

DOUBLE STANDARDS

2 December 2007

This is the December 2 entry, but I'm writing it on December 1, which happens to be World AIDS Day.  This isn't an entry about AIDS, though (though in an age where more people are living with [instead of dying from] AIDS and so more people are being careless about sexual behavior, it's nice to remind everyone that no matter how well they are able to control it, it's still an incurable disease and the treatment is no picnic either.  Steve used to be in great demand to speak to groups of kids on this day, and that demand has lessened in recent years, which is also too bad.)

AIDS is not a gay disease.  That's also something else that needs to be said.  When I was working with the group that helped people with AIDS with things like food, shelter and transportation, I almost never drove a gay man to a doctor's appointment.  It was almost exclusively African American women, with a few Latina women thrown in for good measure.  AIDS has become less a disease of the gay community and more a disease of the inner city.  It is now the #1 cause of death of African-American men between the ages of 25-44, according to the CDC.

However, while thinking about that, I was taken back to the recent Republican debate and a conversation I had recently with a friend.

One of the YouTube questions (followed up by a question from a decorated veteran, who happens to be gay, in the audience) concerned the Don't Ask, Don't tell policy and whether there might be any thought of changing it.

Unanimously the candidates agreed that "don't ask, don't tell" is "working" (whatever that is) and it should be left alone.

In March of this year, USA Today reported that more than 11,000 Army troops have been dismissed under Don't Ask, Don't tell.  The article goes on to state that a Government Accountability Office report in February 2005 found that at least 800 dismissed gay service members had skills deemed "mission critical" by the Pentagon. Among them: 54 Arabic-language specialists.

We are fighting a war in a country where language specialists are critical, but we'd rather dismiss them because of the gender of the people to whom they are attracted than keep them on doing the critical work of helping us communicate with the people are training. 

An op-ed piece in the New York Times in June 2007 was written by an Arabic translator who had been dismissed under Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  The author states:

More than 58 Arabic linguists have been kicked out since ďdonít ask, donít tellĒ was instituted. How much valuable intelligence could those men and women be providing today to troops in harmís way?

In addition to those translators, 11,000 other service members have been ousted since the ďdonít ask, donít tellĒ policy was passed by Congress in 1993. Many held critical jobs in intelligence, medicine and counterterrorism. An untold number of closeted gay military members donít re-enlist because of the pressure the law puts on them. This is the real cost of the ban ó and, with our military so overcommitted and undermanned, itís too high to pay.

In response to difficult recruiting prospects, the Army has already taken a number of steps, lengthening soldiersí deployments to 15 months from 12, enlisting felons and extending the age limit to 42.

The Republican candidates, in stating that the policy was "working" (whatever that means) indicated that they had no difficulty with a person's sexual orientation, but that it was a matter of "morality," implying that the mere fact of being gay (or lesbian) means automatically that you are physically incapable of adhering to the same standards of morality as the straight counterparts.

Now comes the conversation I had recently.  It concerned the news that the son of a mutual friend is about to become a father.  He's not married.  The mother of his child served in the Navy on the same ship as the father.  Obviously more than military work was involved in the time that they spent together on the ship.

But are they being disciplined on any sort of a morality charge? 

Of course not.

They are being given military housing so that they can raise their illegitimate child, conceived while they were both in the Navy and serving together aboard ship.

There is a double standard at play here.  Gays and lesbians are found guilty even if proven innocent.  Even if they have done nothing to violate anybody's standards of morality, even if they are in highly sensitive, highly important, highly necessary positions, they are terminated.

Straights who, by the very nature of the fact that they have conceived a child have violated strict morality codes, and yet they are being rewarded for it.

I don't understand.  How screwed up are the moral values of this country anyway?

 

PHOTO OF THE DAY

One last picture from Cousins Day

 

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