Steve Ralls

"A Propitious Moment for Seeking Change"

Filed By Steve Ralls | February 09, 2009 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Claudia Kennedy, Dan Tepfer, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Marines, military, Owen West, President Obama

Add Owen West to the list of military veterans who are ready to see "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" end. The Iraq war vet, who served two tours of duties in the war zone with the Marines, writes in Monday's New York Times that the time has come to repeal the ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual troops in the armed forces.

"[S]ix years of war have clarified priorities," West writes on the paper's op-ed page. "The battlefield has its own values, starting with courage. Sexual orientation falls somewhere below musical taste. What a person chooses to do back stateside, off-duty, in his own apartment is irrelevant in a fight. For months I lived with 12 other American advisers on an Iraqi outpost. There was a single shower next to a hole that masqueraded as a sewer. But the reality of combat dominated personality quirks - nobody wondered about sexual orientation."

It is time, West says in his piece, for President Obama to move forward on his pledge to support repeal.

"The lesson for President Obama is that this fight is not about rights, but about combat readiness," he writes. "This is a propitious moment for seeking change: a nation at war needs all its most talented troops."

Most of us couldn't agree more... and West is in good company. Other high-ranking veterans, such as retired Army Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy and retired Colonel (and PFLAG dad) Dan Tepfer have also called for repeal. And, as West points out, "Maj. Gen. Thomas Bostick, the head of Army recruiting, said the revelant question in considering [recruits'] applications was, 'Does that person deserve an opportunity to serve their country?' That's exactly right."

And West is exactly right, too. Now, more than ever, the American people and - more and more - our men and women in uniform all support open service. And our new commander-in-chief should, too.

To read West's full op-ed, click here.

Originally posted at the PFLAG National blog.


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The comments are right on. This is an excellent time to remove this area of discrimination. Framing it in terms of benefit to the military is definitely the way to win the battle and the long-term benefit to GLBTQ, we will savor.

lacy panties | February 9, 2009 6:55 PM

The time has come to repeal the ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual troops in the armed forces.

And the time has come for lesbian, gay and bisexual citizens to institute a ban on serving in the armed forces.

and you're free to say that because some gay or lesbian soldier, sailor, airman, or marine silently has your back.

lacy panties | February 9, 2009 9:09 PM

and you're free to say that because some gay or lesbian soldier, sailor, airman, or marine silently has your back.

Does it bother you that you sound like a parody of a conservative wingnut?

Why don't you tell me more about the great work that gay soldiers do. Didn't the Israeli armed forces lead the way in allowing military service without restriction based on sexaul orientation. No doubt those brave gay and lesbians served with distinction in the latest attacks on Palestinians in Gaza.

Does it bother you that you sound like a parody of a conservative wingnut?

Not even a little bit. Freedom and liberty don't come cheap. Someone has to defend them, and somewhere out there in the dark a gay marine is standing the post doing just that. And this gay airman did it before him, just as some gay soldier did it before me, and some gay sailor did it before him all the way back to the beginning of the Republic.

As for Israel, you'll have to take that up with the Kenessit. The soldier goes where he or she is pointed. That's part of our sacrifice.

lacy panties | February 10, 2009 5:02 PM

As for Israel, you'll have to take that up with the Kenessit.

Okay, let's stick with the American forces in Iraq. Is the gay marine out there in the dark defending freedom and liberty? Or is he defending American access to the Middle East?

Great column. Thanks for pointing it out, Steve!

"The lesson for President Obama is that this fight is not about rights, but about combat readiness... a nation at war needs all its most talented troops."

That's a lie. The US is not at war. The US is engaged in international brigandage, mugging an entire region for its oil wealth. The US, led by Clinton, Bush and now Obama invaded and are illegally occupying Iraq and Afghanistan. They’ve murdered more than a million Iraqi and Afghan civilians and 4890 US soldiers.

For the same reason the neocon gangsters and liberal chickenhawks in the Obama administration support apartheid and ethnic cleansing in Palestine, conduct illegal and provocative air attacks against Syria and Pakistan and escalate threats against Iran.

Sadly, part of our movement is turning sharply right and lining up to support the racist, genocidal attack on South Asians. Their promise of more GLBT cannon fodder won't win us any friends in the GI and civilian antiwar movements or in the pro independence Iraqi labor movement. On the contrary, it’s seen as a betrayal.

Our goals are to repeal DADT, defend GLBT service members from bigotry and simultaneously fight to end Obama's racist and murderous brigandage. That can be done by marching with LGBT contingents at the March on the Pentagon on Saturday, March 21st, and at similar demonstrations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other cities across the U.S.

As a rule there are plenty of veterans and active duty GI’s at these demonstrations who’ll be happy to tell you all about paytriotism, enlisting as cannon fodder and what’s really going on over there. If you’re thinking of enlisting talk to them so you don’t have to learn things the hard way.