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Saturday, December 18, 2010

"We All Bleed Red"

About 1:25 p.m., EST:  Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., speaking in favor of DADT repeal, held up a large version of this editorial cartoon to illustrate his remarks on the floor of the Senate.  Your Head Trucker lost it for a moment.

While we are waiting on the historic vote to repeal DADT, here are a couple of excellent things that have been written this week on the subject - which, please God, in just a couple of hours we may consign to the history books. But for the record, these are well worth reading and remembering.

Jonathan Capehart, openly gay Washington Post columnist:
Look, I know the Marines consider themselves the bad-ass branch of the armed forces. But the obsession of Gen. James F. Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, with the presumed negative impacts of allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military is getting out of hand. The Post's Craig Whitlock reports that Amos suggested that dropping don't ask don't tell could result in more casualties because their presence on the battlefield would pose "a distraction."

To listen to Amos, you'd think letting gay men and lesbians serve openly would turn his barracks into the set for the third season of RuPaul's Drag Race. Ridiculous, right? Marines who can't handle serving alongside someone who was closeted on Monday and then comes out on Tuesday are the one Amos should be worried about. They are the ones who will lack discipline. They are the ones who will wreck unit cohesion. They are the ones who will harm morale.

Perhaps Amos didn't read Patrick Pexton's excellent Dec. 1 op-ed in The Post on why gay men -- like all men -- join the military.
Straight soldiers and Marines who have a few years under their belts, and have done a combat tour or two, will more readily talk about this. They often say they enlisted in part because they wanted to prove to someone - maybe a father, their family or a sweetheart, but most often to themselves - that they were brave men willing to suffer the consequences of their adult decisions, even if that included death. That is one of the essences of masculinity, they have said in interviews.

But the scores of gay servicemen I have interviewed over the years express an identical desire to prove their strength, courage and masculinity. It isn't about proving sexual prowess, both straight and gay troops say, but about adulthood and, ultimately, male virtue.
Or maybe Amos would rather cling to outdated and bigoted views than follow his commander in chief, the defense secretary, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the American people, whose safety and liberty his able Marines are sworn to protect.
And a column by Nathan Cox, infantry captain in the Marine Corps, writing in the Washington Post:
I am an active-duty U.S. Marne Corps infantry officer. I have deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan and have commanded infantry Marines in combat. On Tuesday, Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, said he believes repealing "don't ask, don't tell" and allowing gay and lesbian Marines to serve openly could "cost Marines' lives" because of the "mistakes and inattention or distractions" that might ensue. I am not homosexual. And in this instance, I must respectfully disagree with my commandant. . . .

The commandant cites the importance of cohesion within small combat units and warns against its disruption by allowing homosexuals to stop concealing their identities. In my experience, the things that separate Marines in civilian life fade into obscurity on the battlefield. There, only one thing matters: Can you do your job? People care much more about whom you voted for or what city you're from while on the huge airbase with five Burger Kings, or back in the States, than they do when they're walking down a dusty road full of improvised explosive devices in Haditha or Sangin.

In the end, Marines in combat will treat sexual orientation the same way they treat race, religion and one's stance on the likelihood of the Patriots winning another Super Bowl. I do not believe the intense desire we all feel as Marines to accomplish the mission and protect each other will be affected in the slightest by knowing the sexual orientation of the man or woman next to us. . . .

I believe the reluctance many Marines feel about repeal is based on the false stereotype, borne out of ignorance, that homosexuals don't do things like pull other Marines from burning vehicles. The truth is, they do it all the time. We simply don't know it because they can't tell us.

It is time for "don't ask, don't tell" to join our other mistakes in the dog-eared chapters of history textbooks. We all bleed red, we all love our country, we are all Marines. In the end, that's all that matters.

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