My dad while serving in the military was pretty open about what his approach would be if he discovered in combat one of his men was gay. Let’s just say it involved friendly fire to keep his group focused not on watching their ass from their fellow soldier, but to keep them focused on the enemy.
Each time he would say that, I would protest. I remember once watching a war movie with him and asking if he really thought that while marching through the jungle, a gay man is thinking that his fellow soldier’s ass really looks great in those pants? I would get what I called standard military training feedback on that one.
What used to annoy me more than anything was the fact that my dad was not a bigot anywhere else but where homosexuality was concerned, he could look like the biggest one on the planet. I often wondered what my grandma would throw at him or smack him along side the head with if she had heard him speaking like that. She was the most tolerant woman I have ever known. She believed there was good in all people – and did not judge by what someone identified as but on their actions.
About a month ago while we were eating, he announced he had changed his position on it. I should mention that while I was in college, he had the major realization that he couldn’t tell the gay men from the straight ones – even the flamboyantly openly gay ones. Of course, being the kind of daughter I am, I pointed this out to him which really started him down this path of questioning his assumptions.
“What changed it for you?”
He talked about listening to Jessie Ventura of all people answer a question about how he felt about gays in the military. His answer was simply to ask a question back “you are telling me that we are to deny someone willing to stand up and defend this country the opportunity to do just that simply because they are gay?”
The thing I love about my dad is that his beliefs are never as solid as his statements about them. (Except God – don’t muck with God because he is solid there.) And if something or someone makes him think, he will step outside his 30 year old belief and do just that – think about it from a different angle.
“Well, with recruiting being down and fewer and fewer men and women stepping up and volunteering to serve, it made me ask the question who was I to deny anyone the opportunity to serve just because they are gay. No one is going to care on the other side if they are gay or not – they’ll shoot at them just the same.”
Interestingly enough, I read the other day in a snarky email newsletter called The Toilet Paper: Daily News for the Thinking Man an interesting tidbit:
“Per a report by a University of California Blue Ribbon Commission in 2006, discharging troops under the Pentagon’s policy on gays cost $363.8 million over ten years. “
As the author of the newsletter pointed out, “That’s a lot of lettuce to blow on fruits. Just think, had they saved that money some soldiers wouldn’t have to buy their own gear.”
(Click here to read the whole thing – it’s a quick read and worth it for the humor at least.)
I think it is time for a change. Clearly many others do too. And hell, look at it as a cost savings measure if they stop discharging people – that’s no small amount of change if you do the quick math using the numbers above. Let’s hope they figure out how to do it sooner rather than later.