Last year I held a number of meetings with gay soldiers and marines, including some with combat experience in Iraq, and an openly gay senior sailor who was serving effectively as a member of a nuclear submarine crew. These conversations showed me just how much the military has changed, and that gays and lesbians can be accepted by their peers....I suppose at this point the classy thing for me to do would be lauding Gen. Shalikashvili for writing this op-ed in the NYT. But I can't help but think of the tens of thousands of lives that have been ruined because of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Now the good General thinks maybe those queers are all right after all, just because Uncle Sam needs some more bodies in Baghdad? Sorry, that's crap.
I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces. Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job.
In the early Clinton years, we had a choice between two approaches. There was roughly the Clinton choice and the Shalikashvili choice: Clinton's civilian leadership said, essentially, screw the military (for now), they'll get used to gays, and meanwhile there's an issue of human rights to fix. The military said, essentially, no screw you, we ain't takin' no fags. Well, turns out the Clinton people were right - the military did get used to gays, but men like Shalikashvili still want to keep believing they were right to keep discriminating anyway.
Blech. Even if it's turning out for the better now, it's.... depressing.