Steve Ralls

Tough Enough for Will & Grace

Filed By Steve Ralls | August 08, 2007 8:24 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Congress, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Gary Ackerman, military, Military Readiness Enhancement Act, newsday, steve ralls

"That sound you hear in Washington is the federal government shooting itself in the foot."

So begins Congressman Gary Ackerman's op-ed in this morning's Newsday about the need to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Ackerman, who recently took on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice over the same issue, is bringing some much-needed candor back to Congress. His column in today's paper reminds us that yes, there really are a few lawmakers left who "tell it like it is," and take a stand in favor of doing the right thing. Ackerman is even issuing a challenge to Congress: repeal the military's ban on open service when they reconvene this fall.

"It used to be argued that service by openly gay and lesbian patriots would undermine the efficacy of our armed forces," Ackerman writes. "I find it hard to believe that our soldiers and Marines - who go on daily combat patrols carrying 60 pounds of gear and ammo in 120-degree heat with the real prospect of death or dismemberment - are going to lose their nerve if the gays and lesbians who are already serving in uniform are allowed to do so openly."

"If they're tough enough to tackle al-Qaida," he notes, "I think they'll manage to serve with 'Will and Grace.' Canada, Australia, Israel and every country in Europe allows open service by gays and lesbians. I haven't heard that any of these countries' armed forces are seriously overstretched (like ours) or have been reduced to recruiting ex-cons to fill their ranks (like ours)."

"Until this regressive policy is consigned to the trash heap with other indefensible forms of bias, more messages will go untranslated, more wounded service members will go untreated and more recruitment slots will go unfilled. If we're serious about winning the war on terror, we need to roll out the welcome mat for every patriot, gay or straight, who wants to serve. When Congress reconvenes in September, we need to do the right thing and lift this ban."

Kudos to Ackerman for his biting commentary, which exposes the utter stupidity of keeping this law in place. We should all challenge our own Representatives, if they're not already sponsors of repeal legislation, to follow the Congressman's lead and sign on today.


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it just seems to me that with every passing minute the US becomes less and less of a world leader in so many areas. We're failing in the arena of our education and health care systems, we're ignoring the need for all-inclusive civil/human/gay rights legislation and acknowledgement, and our foreign policy has estranged any allies we may have had. One stupid move after another. When will we start to take our country back?

Leland Frances | August 8, 2007 12:41 PM

Positions on DADT aside, anyone who publicly bitch slaps that shameless lying whore for the Bush Reich Condosleazy Rice is okay by me.

As for this Op Ed, I respectfully urge SLDN to take out full-page ads in leading mainstream newspapers reprinting it under large, bold face font statistics about discharged gay Arabic language experts and their relation to the threats to Americans' security——grandly illustrated and bordered with the same kind of red, white, and blue "patriotic" images that the Repugs have exploited so well.

Would that it were not true, but a majority in Congress will only repeal DADT anytime within the next five years [at least] if their constituents INSIST upon it. And, would that it were not true, but those constituents will ONLY do that within that period if they become convinced that it is literally tied to their and their children's survival.

Whatever his feelings about the gay man in the foxhole next to him, in life-threatening moments the homophobic soldier is going to be thankful for that second rifle. We must "bring the foxholes home" to the civilian electorate if they are to connect potential threats to their own lives with DADT. And it isn't just poorly-educated hoi polloi and Holy Rollers who need practical reasons to override their fears and beliefs which otherwise make bumper sticker calls for "fairness" irrelevant to them. Noble-prize winning existentialist philosopher Albert Camus wrote decades ago [during the period when Algerian Islamic terrorists were the issue] how his moral beliefs could quickly be set aside were his mother in danger.

The Right has been using such psychology for decades; Guiliani, most shamelessly, is using it now. The injustice of banning gays from the military was first brought to the general public's attention nearly 30 years ago with the Matlovich case. Similar attempts to change policy by example of outstanding gay men and women vets have had some positive affect, but have essentially amounted to just chipping away at a mountain. And, there is some reason to believe that that mountain, at least with some older Americans, is thicker, if not higher, during this time of "permanent war."

There were intentional associations of "the enemy" with homosexuality in WWI [on several sides], WWII, and the 50s. And I am convinced that a factor in the increased vehement homohatred among a percentage of Americans is an unspoken, unconcious association of faceless terrorists and their different religion, dress, language, customs with the ultimate "other"——us. McCarthy and company [along with his personal gay Kapo Cohn] combined the fear of Communism with the fear of gays. Such irrationalities remain hardwired in many who survive that generation and now-adult children growing up then.

Many probably think I'm being too analytical. But this is simple fact: the methods that have been used to assault DADT have proven inadequate alone fourteen year later.