Thursday, February 4, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell is Exhausting for GLBT Servicepeople.

Comment 143 from Prop 8 Trial Tracker, today's Prop. 8 and DADT thread:

A poster named Ozymandias said:

I think there’s a big misunderstanding concerning DADT with a lot of people who support it (but are at least reasonable about it). I have heard people say ‘Why overturn it? What happens in the bedroom shouldn’t be anyone’s business!’ Naturally I agree, but DADT is not about preventing us from hurling our ‘lifestyle’ about.

I asked someone once, ‘How many times a day do you mention your wife in casual conversation?’ He said that he didn’t know because he didn’t think about it. Exactly – he didn’t have to think about it because his relationship with his wife was universally accepted. Now, I asked him, imagine being in a place where he COULDN’T mention his marriage because his marriage could get him fired. How many conversations would he suddenly have to edit? What about conversations via e-mail with his wife, if the e-mail server was owned by the company with this policy? Going further, even if he used a 3rd-party e-mail platform, how would he feel if his monitor was facing the door to his office? What if the company had internet-monitoring software? Was there the possibility that the company could somehow ’see’ his e-mails? What about Instant Messaging?

Even more than that, what if you ran into a co-worker away from work with your wife by your side? How would you handle company functions, or even places where you know your co-workers go after work? What if someone ‘found out’ about your marriage and said he was supportive – how would you feel if you received instructions to reprimand that co-worker for something? Or have to give them a project that they might feel is unfair? Would the knowledge that he knew affect your dealings with him?

He looked at me with open horror and said, ‘My God, the amount of paranoia that kind of policy would create… in every part of my dealings with my co-workers – that would exhaust me completely! Gays and Lesbians in the Armed Forces have to deal with that?’

Every day, was my response.

And it is exhausting. Having to look over your shoulder every day -- which is absolutely necessary in a hostile environment in which you are being hunted by other human beings. This is exactly the environamt that Former Senator Sam Nunn and Former President Bill Clinton's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" promulgates. Superiors in the military, if they suspect any servicemember is gay / lesbian / etc., can ask other people including civilians how that servicemember exercised his / her liberties whilst off duty. Oftentimes the result is a dishonourable discharge which means the dischargee usually can't get a decent job. Servicemembers can't seek address for sexual or homophobic harassment because then they will be under increased suspicion! Oftentimes they have to defend themselves with no support whatsoever. Sometimes they're brutally murdered like Barry Wenchell, who was beaten to death with a baseball bat simply because he fell in love with a MTF transgender who had begun to present herself as a woman... yet he was otherwise straight.

It is past time to let our fellow GLBT servicepeople to serve their copuntry openly!

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