US Military Don't ask Don't Gay

By Kelli Busey
July 02, 2008

A CBS special titled "Military Soft On Don't Ask, Don't Tell? 60 Minutes: Is Military More Tolerant Of Gay Members In Wartime?"

I am sure that the title of this series could easily lead people to beleave it's content would pander to the homophobic agenda. Instead it presents a human insight to the conundrum facing many of us who served. How can I serve my county faithfully as a LGBT person? To openly admit your sexual affinity to your commanding officer could set into motion a series of events that even the most loyal of officers can not stop. General Court Martial Article 15 of the United States Military Code. I know this code like a old friend, it can be used as a gentle nudge to remind a slightly errant soldier of minor infractions or as a trial by a General Officer where the people stand accused and convicted by a single person, only waiting sentencing.

As a non commissioned officer I was ordered to witness this mock justice performed on my section Sergeant.
What was once a brave and wonderful man was stripped of his dignity and reduced to a crying and pitiful shadow. I could not help but beleave that this show was performed in part for my benefit so I could pass what I had seen on to my fellow soldiers.

Instead what happened almost cost me my stripes, and freedom but I kept my self respect and the respect of my fellow solders to include the very people who where being forced to perform this mockery of justice.
My Sergeant and I served in units who's isolated mountain top operations requires it to be far from any official brigs. Our jobs required high levels of security and technical training, not a highly desirable position mainly filled by people like us. So in this capacity I was ordered to insure that my Sergeant remained in a barracks lock down under armed guard.
Since it was a weekend and I didn't want to burden my troops with this despicable extra duty I remained to stand watch.
My Sergeant and I had discussed our positions. He fully understood that I would honor my oath of allegiance and use all means at my disposal to prevent him from escaping. We also talked about the mock justice we were a part of. I cried when my friend cried. I felt the loss of belief in god and country as my sergeant did. So when he asked me if his girlfriend could spend the weekend with him before he went to Leavenworth I made sure they were not disturbed. When he asked me if he could have beer I sent my runner to fetch it.

My Sergeant was still drunk and laid silly come the Monday morning he was scheduled for movement. Now it was my turn to "stand on the carpet" and "see the old man".

I did not fear this because my Commander was a good man, and I felt the indiscretion was a fair treatment for a unfairly condemned man. I also took great pride in this blatant act of defiance.
My Commander asked me if I know of the brevity of the situation and I replied yes sir. I received a administrative Article 15, a slap on the wrist.
What we see in the Army's reaction to LGBT people is in fact a reflection of the strong race bigotry that is unofficially condoned. As a person who was "different" I became very close to others who did not exactly match the Aryan picture uncle wanted. These people became my life blood. Sometimes I would be questioned as to why white people acted so offensively and to this I can only shrug my shoulders. I was not born with a active bigot bone.

What we are witnessing in the different reactions that the population is demonstrating in IRAQ to the European approach and ours is not exclusively a demographically universal response of the indigent population.
It mirrors my response to intolerance. I too stood and waved my finger in a act of defiance as did my commander in his jurisprudence to my participation in the highly prosecutable weekend activities.

The military can help to end the conflict the politicians created by becoming participants in humanity. We can learn from the worlds inclusion of GLBT people into their military. Contrary to the US ARMY'S official response the consequence of allowing LGBT people to disclose their affinity will not be fatal to our soldiers and would not adversely affect a units readiness. Quite the opposite. My friends knew me much better than I did, but if anything my candor made our bonds of trust unbreakable. Dear Elgin, the man who patiently dragged me, a unwilling student into understanding friendship, Rufus my running partner, James my pudding head best bud and everyone. Thank you.


Queers United said...

this policy is so outdated, the dems better get rid of it come november. the nation wants its repeal. thanks for posting this video, ill have to check it later as im about to walk the doggie.

Kelli Busey said...

This response was submitted on the RMN blog http://www.rmnblog.org/ which I simultaneously posted "Don't ask don't Gay" by a reader proudly named "A Soldier". I feel it is worthy of consideration and my following response.
A Soldier said.....

"It's hard to know exactly what the author is saying in this somewhat confusing article, but it does contain a number of gross factual errors about the Uniform Code of Military Justice. There is no such thing as a General Court Martial Article 15. An Article 15 is an administrative procedure for minor infractions. A Soldier always has the right to refuse an Article 15 and accept the possibility of legal proceedings. A Soldier also has the right to consult a lawyer before accepting an Article 15. A General Court Martial is courtroom trial complete with a judge, a prosecutor, a defense attorney, a panel of jurors, procedural rules and rules of evidence, a review by the convening authority and the right to appeal. Like trials in the civilian world, this process takes a considerable amount of time. A GCM is convened by a general officer, but not tried by him/her. No one goes to the Disciplinary Barracks at Leavenworth without conviction at court martial and the opportunity to appeal the conviction. It is often said that the UCMJ provides a defendant more legal rights and safeguards than most civilian legal codes.

Congress, and not the military departments, sets policy on homosexuality in the armed forces. See Title 10 of the US Code, Section 654.

Posted by: A Soldier | July 03, 2008 at 11:39 PM"
I responded.....

"Thank you Soldier, and especially thank you for your contributions on our Fourth of July. My Sergeant was offered a trial, but was told that the consequence's were that a longer sentence could be imposed. At that point I was most afraid for his safety, he looked like he wanted to run. But he maintained and opted to stand before this single officer.
But this is a single brush stroke on the canvas and I am sorry if the meaning of his post is obscured by this metaphor. I wish to draw an analogy of the resulting behaviour of a indigenous population to our homophobic and parochial military and that of the armies occupying the same county who's policy is more accepting of LGBT people and the correspondingly less agitated behavioural response.
I feel a independent analysis is fair since the official governmental position is that the only reason that we encounter such hostility when other countries are able to draw down their forces peaceably is because they refuse to place their soldiers in the more hostile areas.
This is a Orwellian doublespeak which conveniently offers the American public which has been trained by the mainstream media to except "sound bite" palatably convenient explanations and does not truthfully, insight fully or strenuously explore other contributing factors to this disparity.
I also explored the seemingly unpatriotic parallel to Americans who were placed in a situation where access the freedom of self expression is denied and the only option is the severity of punishment. We also responded by revolution probably beginning with a wag of a finger. I am well aware that the official line of the ARMY is that racial discrimination is not allowed and that the laws are written by government. The correlation I am interested in here is maybe the most important of this post. Reconciliation begins and lasts from the the inside of each individual person(a ARMY of ONE), regardless of what has been inked or chiseled. I personally beleave that if our ARMY became more "human" we would reap immediate results, possibly even peace. Please make every 21st of September in your life "Peace Day".

Posted by: Kelli Busey | July 04, 2008 at 09:25 AM"