Friday, April 30, 2010

Discrimination in the military

Yesterday, the U.S. Navy ended its policy which had barred women from serving on submarines. Oddly enough, this didn't seem to stir up much controversy among conservatives, unlike the hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth that accompanies any discussion of allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the U.S. military (just as we do in some 20 NATO countries now).

One obvious reason for this is because women are a much more numerous and politically powerful demographic than homosexuals. One which is increasingly difficult to marginalize as our sexist, paternalistic society has so readily done in the past.

The reality today is that it is far less acceptable to be misogynistic than homophobic, even among right-wingers. Of course, two decades ago this wasn't necessarily the case. Early in Bill Clinton's Presidency many military positions, previously exclusive only to men, were opened to women. Many conservatives of the time droned on about the detrimental effect it would have on the military. In spite of this, bold action was taken, plans were implemented, integration took place, there were growing pains, but the military survived and become stronger for it. Just as it did after President Truman racially integrated the military in 1948. A change that took decades to more fully implement.

Of course, while President Clinton opened the military more for women, he also created a hopelessly contradictory policy which would allow homosexuals to serve in the military on the condition that they lie about their sexual orientation and some of the most basic aspects of their personal lives.

Now the time seems to be approaching for the military to finally afford homosexuals the same dignity as racial minorities and women before them by ending this 'Don't Ask; Don't Tell' policy. It's been a long time coming. And probably won't happen as a matter of policy until next year.

20 years from now, maybe it won't even be a big deal anymore... Maybe.