Tony Vagneur: Saddle Sore
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
It has been a battle for many years (a losing one, I might add), trying to keep the government out of our lives, even when it seems trivial, but there have been some victories. Lately, we’re on the cusp of getting something done about tax rates (isn’t it incredible how Washington talks about “paying” for tax cuts – never mind the almost unbearable oxymoronic thought process necessary to even say that). Residing on the back burner like a spider without a web is the issue of gays and lesbians in the military and its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
For years, various states carried sodomy laws in their statutes, many of which were aimed at homosexual couples, but not exclusively. Sodomy, in the legal world, is meant to encompass unnatural sexual acts, including but not limited to, oral sex, anal sex and bestiality, conveniently leaving room for our imaginations to further define the term. Of course, to paraphrase Bill Clinton, we’d need to decide what it is that defines “sex.”
Those laws, based on moral perceptions, were eventually recognized to be interference by the government in the intimate lives of its citizens, and were summarily overturned by the U. S. Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas (June 2003). This was based on the assumption that there was insufficient justification for intruding into people’s liberty and privacy.
The military was excluded from this dictum and allowed to prohibit people who “demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts” from serving in the armed forces of the United States, because their presence “would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.”
The ability of the military (at the direction of government) to determine who is homosexual is open to interpretation and can include the mere declaration that one is gay or lesbian, or an accusation from a fellow soldier. It’s not too far removed from the Salem witch trials, but our moral compass never fails to guide us unerringly into compromising situations.
For today’s troops on the front lines, it appears that about 70 percent consider “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to be a dead letter, according to the latest poll numbers. There are pressing needs that must be met on the battlefield, and what kind of pinup stiffens a guy’s resolve isn’t really one of them.
Lest you think I have changed the focus of what revs my engine, let me be clear. If someone asks me, “Sexual preference?”, there are only two possible answers, either “often” or “none of your damned business.” In my estimation, there is no doubt that the military should have a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Regardless the possible temptations, a gay man camped in the middle of a testosterone-laden barracks should use common sense and fumble around under his own Army-issued woolen blanket to relieve the mounting physical arousal or loneliness that may confront him. Just like everyone else.
Likewise, homophobes who act upon their own sense of cruel justice should be severely dealt with, as I’m sure they already are.
In today’s military, homosexuality should be a non-issue. When I say that, I mean that there should be no special provisions for the gay or lesbian communities, no more than for any other self-proclaimed group, no guarantees that anyone can serve in the military as “openly gay,” whatever that means. This would also eliminate deliberate “outing” by disgruntled partners in preference.
If the public doesn’t speak up about this, Washington, with all deliberate ineptness, will create another insurmountable albatross that, before you know it, will have your congressman once again sitting at the foot of your bed, be you heterosexual or not.
Besides, we need the soldiers.
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