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26 Jun

Overturn “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Sign The Petition

Dear The McGlynn,

On Tuesday at 8 a.m., I will stand trial for speaking three truthful words: “I am gay.”

On Tuesday, I will face a panel of colonels who will decide whether or not to fire me — to discharge me for “moral and professional dereliction” under the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

On Tuesday, I will try to prove that it’s not immoral to tell the truth.

As an infantry officer, an Iraq combat veteran and a West Point graduate with a degree in Arabic, I refuse to lie to my commanders. I refuse to lie to my peers. I refuse to lie to my subordinates.

My case requires that I provide personal testimony from people who can attest to my character. That’s why several members of my military unit have written letters of support and offered to testify on my behalf.

Now I need your help. ANYONE who believes the Army should not fire me can take a stand right now. I am bringing a statement of support to Tuesday’s trial and I need you to add your signature to it. Will you support me by signing this statement before Tuesday?

Sign The Petition

I want to thank the 141,262 people who have signed the “Don’t Fire Dan” letter launched a few weeks ago by the Courage Campaign and CREDO Mobile to President Obama, asking him to take leadership to bring this tragic policy to an end.

The momentum is building. This week, 77 members of Congress signed a letter to the President citing my service as an example of why DADT should be repealed. And a Gallup poll was recently released showing that 69 percent of Americans — including 58 percent of Republicans – favor allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve their country .

As I learned at West Point, deception and lies poison a unit and cripple a fighting force. That’s why more than 70 of my fellow West Point graduates have also come out of the closet to join Knights Out, the organization I co-founded to build support for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.

The only way we will eventually overturn “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is by speaking up together. You can help me fight back right now by adding your name to my statement of support. On Tuesday morning, I will bring your signature — and thousands of others — to my trial as a demonstration of your collective support:

National security means many things, but the thing that makes us secure in our nation and homes is love. What makes me a better soldier, leader, Christian and human being is love. And I’m not going to hide my love.

Love is worth it.

Thank you for your support.

Daniel W. Choi
1LT, IN
New York Army National Guard
To power our campaign for full equality, please chip in what you can today:

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Stephen McGlinn

I don’t think it should be overturned. I would have to know more details about Daniel Choi’s particular case to have an informed opinion about whether he’s been treated fairly. My experience with veterans tells me that they fight for the guy next to them. Unit cohesion is extremely important. Anything that disturbs this fraternity is an obstacle to an effective military. What do you all think?

Pancha

mary

I don’t understand why unit cohesion would be harmed by having gays in the military, unless some soldiers are still operating under the misguided and backward notion that gays are not courageous, are not willing to risk all for their fellow soldiers, are not now serving and have always served in the military without problems If this is the case, some education is in order.

We have always had homosexual persons in our culture and in all cultures. They are not demons, they are not evil. I have known several gay men and women; each of them were models of the best of our human nature. Politics, literature, all of the arts have been enriched by gay persons. I’m sure the military has also been; we just don’t know the extent to which homosexuals have served. It is time we did.

Stephen McGlinn

Well, Mary, many heterosexual men find homosexuality abhorrent. They are uncomfortable serving with homosexual men, especially in combat situations. You may regard their discomfort as ignorant, but I’m not so sure. They simply have a visceral sense of repulsion when it comes to homosexuality.

If that disgust transmutes into violence towards homosexuals, then it is a cowardly, condemnable act, the perpetrator due for harsh criminal punishment. But shall we criminalize the disgust itself? Simply condemn it as ignorance? It seems that in the name of the liberal polity we are coming to that point. Does not a person have the right to regard certain sex acts as abominable or not? Is one no longer allowed to hold any opinion on the matter? How far shall we intrude with secular morality’s latest fashions?

If aversion toward homosexuality interferes with the bonds of men who serve their country in the most intimate proximity to each other imaginable, then it should be recognized and dealt with practically – “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a practical, if awkward, effort to do so.

My personal opinion regarding gays is quite mixed. Like you, I didn’t crawl out from under a rock, either; I’ve worked with a number of gay men and women. They weren’t all “models of the best of our human nature” – but neither were the heterosexual persons I know. But I didn’t crouch next to them while trying to find out who’s shooting at me. I didn’t eat, sleep and breath in the same few cubic feet waiting at death’s door, wondering if the man next to me would die for me, or I for him. I would submit that the realm of combat, which is beyond our salutory experience, can only be spoken for by the men who’ve undergone it. If they, on the whole, prefer not to serve with openly gay persons, then so be it. If, on the other hand, they have no problem, then my hat is off to them.

mary

Stephen,

I can agree with much of your reply, especially your comments to the effect that some men are repulsed by homosexuality (as are some women). The question is, should the policies of our military take their direction from such persons if those policies discriminate against our fellow citizens. I don’t see how they can.

I also am concerned that we over-emphasize these anti-gay attitudes among the soldiers on the ground. We should remember that those who serve in the military do not exist in their formative years outside of their greater culture; just as the attitudes of the population-at-large has changed and continues to moderate on the question of homosexuality, so too would the attitudes of our soldiers and soldiers-to-be. I would like to see some research on this. But even if it is true that many soldiers are uncomfortable among gay persons, could it be that serving with homosexuals, seeing them react the same as they in harsh and dangerous situations, being with them without threat of compromising situations, becoming comrades-in-arms with them would alleviate some of their anxieties.

I also would remind us all, again, that gays have always served in the military, and I am sure that, in the case of many of them, they were known to be gay.

Finally, I don’t consider gay rights “secular morality’s latest fashion.” that is, I don’t consider these rights to be the latest “fashion,” but as far as being part of the secular morality, I agree it is and, being a secularist and a humanist, I see this as a good thing. I believe our country should be guided by secular morality as opposed to any one religion’s morality or any religion’s morality. Here, I am sure, we will always disagree; amiably, I’m sure.

I believe homosexual persons have the same constitutional rights as I do, as you do. Perhaps, that is what the issue will reduce to: do we have a constitutional right to serve in our country’s military. If a final decision is that gay persons do not have such a right, we will be losing the intelligence, the talents, and the love of country of many fine men and women. And we all will have lost.

Stephen McGlinn

Dear Mary,

Yours is an excellent and well-thought-out reply. I know for certain that gays have always served in the military. In order to “keep the peace” in the service (an oxymoron?), the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was enacted. It was in itself a tacit acknowledgement of their service, however circumscribed by a demand for silence about their sexual identity. Daring to try to see this from the perspective of a gay person in the military, I can understand, a little, how it could be an uncomfortable situation.

Yes, we disagree on the role of religion in society. I am convinced that we’ve gone down a road of materialistic excess (our current circumstances bear witness) and I link this strongly to a culture of atheism and “religious-in-name-only” consciousness in our American politics. It is farcical to think our Founding Fathers would appreciate such a spiritually-blind-leading-the-blind society.

And this godless mentality has disturbed the rest of the world. It is not merely political disagreement that the followers of Islam have with the West; they are properly disgusted with our hell-for-leather hedonism. Our “culture” (I use the term loosely) is exported all over the world via television and movies, and people can see what we value, what we are. The emperor has no clothes, and not only that, but he’s frightfully obese, he is devoid of self-control, he kills out of political expediency, he’s a liar and a thief, and he’s speaking like a crazy man.

We are the emperor.

– Stephen

mary

Stephen,

I,too, bemoan the increasing materialism of our citizens, our public and personal policies of greed and corruption, the dumbing-down of our intellectual discourse, and the coarsening of our culture, but I do not think it has been the atheists, humanists, and non-religious people who have steered our country down this path. This is America we are talking about–America, the Christian nation. For the last 8 years (and on and off before) this country has been in the throes of Christian fundamentalism, and the leaders of this country have been, not humanists, but Christians. It was not a humanist cabal that led us into an illegal and immoral war and caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands and the destruction of a weakened country; it was the neo-cons, they, themselves, professed Christians blessed by the leaders of the religious right. You will remember, I’m sure, according to Bush, he was following the orders of his god. And, surely, you are aware of the concomitant histories of religion and war, persecution, and destruction. How does one who thinks religion and a belief in a god is the only way to a moral life and a just and honorable society deal with this history?

It is also important to note that materialism has been no stranger to religion; it was the religious Pilgrims who came to these shores to establish a community where they could freely practice their religion, the tenets of which included the belief that an individual’s financial success and material wealth were a sign of a saved soul–a strain that still runs through some Christian religions. One need only look at the wealth and materialistic extravagance of the Vatican, in a world where so many children go hungry, to realize religious institutions are not always characterized by non-materialism.

I would agree with you that some of our Founding Fathers would be surprised and disheartened by various aspects of our culture, including, as you have stated, a lack of spirituality, but I also would suggest that you may be attributing to several of our Founding Fathers a degree of commitment to religion and its value as a force in the development of a nation and a culture that is not borne out in their writings and their life stories, among them one of the greatest, in my estimation, Thomas Paine, who wrote, “I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of . . .for my own part, I disbelieve them all.” And, then, there are, of course, Jefferson and Franklin. I’m sure you know the quotes.

To return to the question at hand, you seem to conclude that the main effect of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy among gays serving in the military is a state of discomfort. I would suggest to you that a government policy that requires a person to be dishonest, to lie about something so basic as one’s sexuality is a corrupt policy of a government undeveloped in ethical standards and an understanding of human nature, and, thus, a policy doomed to failure. I would also suggest that the effects of such a policy go well beyond the level of an “uncomfortable situation” for those who are required to deny this integral part of their personality and, in so doing, to unintentionally, themselves, add to the impression that it and they are base.

Finally, I am not sure what the problematic nature of our current culture has to do with the rights of gay men and women. If you are proposing that homosexual men and women are, by their very nature, less moral than heterosexuals and that, in their increasing desire and demands to be open and honest about their sexuality and to gain the same rights that you and I enjoy, they are contributing to the demise of our culture, then, once again, we have reached a point in our discussion of such deep disagreement that further debate would have little merit (except for our own personal enjoyment of the exercise). Perhaps, then, dear Stephen, we should agree to disagree with respect for each other and comforted by our mutual love and hope for our troubled country.

If I have misinterpreted any of your statements, please accept my apology,

Mary

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