According to this article by the Associated Press, an organization of West Point alumni called “Knights Out” is gaining notice for specifically stating their goal is to target the current policy of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”.
I have two perspective on this I guess. First, as an LGBT activist, I’m all for it, and it’s great to hear. Anytime someone stands up for LGBT civil rights and equal treatment it’s good news.
But as a former active duty Airman, I feel differently. First off, West Point means officers. Officers suffer too, but much of the problems with DADT affect enlisted personnel more. Think of it as Officers being the white collar workers, and the enlisted people as blue collar (very rough analogy, but work with me here). So the guy with the gun in the trench, more often than not is gonna be some Security Forces enlisted guy. The people with no voice are the enlisted folks. Officers, in many ways, have it easier overall than enlisted ones. So an organization from West Point alums… well if I was still active duty I wouldn’t be impressed. The issue it seems from what I’ve read on surveys and studies is done is actually with retirees, and higher level enlisted. Just like in the civilian sector, the young blood is much more supportive of our rights than our elders are, but our elders also hold more sway. In the military this is much more pronounced, and that’s what we need to address. I remember being indoctrinated with homophobic slurs in basic and tech school, and those things were encouraged throughout my enlistment. I remember Gay Thursdays when I worked with Security Forces, and how often I heard words that I refuse to say in relation to my own sexuality. Maybe I’m cynical from my experience… but I think the voice of reason and compassion will have to speak from the outside.
That being said though, I think once President Obama pushes out the antiquated DADT policy, the military will take to it. Similarly to how it had to be forced down for African Americans to serve alongside white soldiers, I believe we have to dictate that gays can serve alongside straights. And in the same way, I think we’ll be surprised when the world doesn’t end.