Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Obama, remember us?

The road to the White House is paved with broken promises.

Obama promised as a candidate to end Don't Ask Don't Tell. He is the Commander-in-Chief. He has a Congress begging to do his bidding. He promised as a candidate to end discrimination against gays in the military.

He has done nothing.

At the White House Correspondents' Dinner, he jokingly compared himself to God, saying that He had accomplished his first 100 days in only 72. And on the 73rd day, He rested.

If you have time to rest, Mr. Obama, you have time to remember your campaign promise and stop allowing the throwing away of valuable military talent (and people's careers) by resistant generals who will drag this out until you are out of office. Congress is willing to follow, but loath to lead, on this issue. You have only to expend a microfraction of the immense political capital that you have.

I know that gays are not going to win politicians any elections (though fortunately we are no longer losing them any!). That is precisely why honoring a commitment to fairness in taking active steps to end discrimination against us is such a clear sign of integrity. It is time to do the right thing.

Because political capital is a terrible thing to waste.

6 comments:

Scott B. said...

This is just a question--not inferring or predicting outcomes at all.

Case 1: DADT is still in force, and a closet gay is discovered to be such by his military comrades. They, feeling threatened for reasons unknown, haze him in a way that pushes or crosses the line of assault.

Case 2: DADT is not in force, and a now-openly gay person in the military is hazed in similar fashion as Case 1.

Question: Does/Should the existence of DADT have any bearing on the punishment for those who engaged in conduct unbecoming?

Dan Weston said...

Scott, good question. Luckily, I have a good answer...

The existence per se of DADT has no bearing on the punishment. However, the intent of the hazer does have bearing. If the "comrades" hazed him because they thought he was gay, irrespective of whether he actually is gay, that is a hate crime, for which elevated punishment is warranted. If they hazed him for some other reason (unrelated to sexuality or gender role stereotype) not pertaining to a protected class, then that merits less punishment.

A hate crime is actually two crimes: one against the individual, one against the group.

This is a nonlinear effect (like friction). Hate speech by itself is protected by the First Amendment and cannot be punished (barring some credible threat). However, coupled with an actionable crime, it can and does aggravate that crime, being facial evidence of intent to harm a protected class.

In practice, hazing is related almost invariably to the failure to live up to a group norm, but only one that is not strong enough to support itself without intimidation. Group norms that have inner strength (honesty, duty, mowing the lawn) do not need hazing to endure.

In fact, I doubt that hazing is a big problem among gays in the military. These are professional soldiers equipped with good training and an esprit de corps. Patriotism trumps race, class, and sexual orientation in a foxhole. I remember reading somewhere (I think in the Stars and Stripes) of a top 10 list of complaints that soldiers have. Heading the list is too much time away from home and low pay. Showering with gays did not make the list.

The resistance is more from the upper officer corps, disproportionately staffed by older Christian evangelicals, the very demographic inimical to gays. 20-something recruits have (I expect) much less problem with this. Potential "problems" with gays in the military are more a scare tactic, but to suggest that the morale of the armed Forces would be degraded by the presence of gays is not borne out by other countries' militaries (including that of Israel, one of the most feared in the world).

I think we should give our men and women in uniform a bit more credit.

mfranti said...

i followed your link from BCC.you had me with your comment there but I'm totally blog crushing since I've read your intro.

How long have you been commenting at BCC?

p.s. you can delete this comment after you read it.

fmhmfranti

Dan Weston said...

mfranti,

Thanks for the kind words. It's not often that someone gets a blog crush!

I have been reading (and only sometimes commenting) at BCC only since March 2009. Scott B. dragged me over, and I've been addicted ever since.

I have added your blog to those that I follow, and look forward to reading the wisdom contained therein.

mfranti said...

Dear Dan,

I can guarantee that you will not find anything of value on the blog attached to my name here.

I can guarantee that you will find much wisdom at the blog where I spend most of my time feministmormonhousewives.org

(no, that was not a shameless plug for fMh)

I am working my way through your archives and look forward to seeing you around the nacle. we need more folks like yerself 'round there to shake things up a bit.

did I tell you how much i loved your last comment at BCC?

Dan Weston said...

You mean this comment?:

And the Lord God said, It is not good that a gay man should be alone; I will make him an help mate for him. Therefore shall a gay man leave his father and his mother, and his friends, his Church, and all that he knows and holds dear, and without promise of happiness or permanence, and with no guarantees of success, shall cleave unto his husband: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his husband, together alone and faced a future uncertain.

And they were not ashamed.

Getting to the point where I could honestly say those last 5 words was the hardest thing I have ever done!

Per your suggestion, I have redirected my blog following link to Feminist Mormon Housewives. The title alone makes it worth reading!