Pop music superstar Lady Gaga arrived at the recent MTV Awards accompanied by “gay veterans” of the U.S. military to bring attention to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy—a policy set for a Senate vote in the coming week, stuffed into the 2011 defense budget bill by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Read.
Democrats are tying America’s efforts to win wars and protect its interests directly to the participation of flagrantly open gays in the effort.
Before anyone starts throwing around the inevitable terms like “homophobic” and “bigot”—or any of the usual labels meant to kill rational debate on contentious issues—it’s worth noting that I personally have no problem with gays. In fact, I work out at a gay gym here in Paris, France, because the hygiene is generally better and I don’t get hit on. The fact that a behind is grabbed or rubbed every few minutes in front of me, or exceptionally intense “bisous” are exchanged while the queue for the water fountain forms in front of the stationary bike I’m riding, is marginally tolerable—at least as tolerable as I find the same public behavior by heterosexuals.
But generally, I’m one of those people who finds public displays of affection extremely annoying—or any kind of imposed intrusion into someone’s private sphere where I frankly don’t feel that I belong.
In much the same way that considering these highly personal displays of intimacy by people of any sexual preference doesn’t make me a “homophobe” or a “heterophobe,” the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy isn’t discriminatory against gays—it’s discriminatory against exhibitionists (like Lady Gaga).
Abolishing it, however, would be discriminatory against people who just want to focus on their job—which, in the military, strikes me as challenging enough. I can barely stand overhearing tales of someone’s latest leg-over while running on the treadmill, and can’t imagine being bombarded with it while in 100F heat in a war zone.
Lady Gaga has now taken to Twitter to browbeat Harry Reid—or, more likely, the poor aide responsible for churning out talking points on his Twitter feed. Reid’s camp responded: “There is a vote … next week. Anyone qualified to serve this country should be allowed to do so.”
I hope that wasn’t really Reid responding, because I’d hate to think he doesn’t understand the legislation. As it stands, no gay who wants to serve in the U.S. military is prohibited from doing so.
The “Don’t Ask” part of the law means that the military has no right to even ask what a soldier’s sexual preference may be. And the “Don’t Tell” part only dictates that anyone serving focuses on the job they were hired to do, rather than regaling everyone with details and demonstrations pertaining to their intimate preferences. It’s not a law that discriminates, but rather protects gays from discrimination and people doing their job from being annoyed by unrelated nonsense.
So why isn’t there a “no public display of affection” policy for straight servicemen? Perhaps that’s because it’s not an issue. Given that it’s mainly men serving in combat zones, it’s a pretty good guess that the opportunity to put their full heterosexual pride on display just doesn’t exist. Or it could be that when the opportunity does exist, they’re more discreet about it—or maybe not interested because they’re more concerned with the job they’re being paid to do.
I’ve personally always found—and this is an objective sociological observation, not a “homophobic” one—that the amount of touchy-feely that goes among gays is far higher and more noticeable than among straights. Sure, there may be the odd kiss or touch, but not the sheer volume and intensity of rubbing, grabbing and flirting that occurs in public among gays in the same public places where you wouldn’t expect such things.
I get what Lady Gaga is doing—she’s into wild costumes favored by drag queens and, like Madonna and Cher before her, has a big following among them. She’s trying to appeal to her fans, and at the idealistic age of 24, thinks she’s doing good by using her fame to throw some light on what she thinks is a worthy human cause.
Unfortunately, the goodwill is misplaced in this case. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has nothing to do with gay rights being usurped. Nor should any legislation that encourages people to focus on the very difficult, often life-threatening tasks at hand be repealed.
So rather than scrap it altogether, here’s a better solution: What about extending the policy to heterosexuals and removing any reference to sexual preference? Then anyone making out with another guy OR a girl while cleaning their gun (or whatever they do when they’re not being shot at and have time for silliness) would get axed. Amend the legislation to apply equally, rather than scrapping it so that it no longer applies to an issue which was apparently enough of a problem for Bill Clinton—hardly the paragon of homophobia—to usher it in 16 years ago.
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