Closeted Soldiers Must Come Out Now

A 9th Circuit Appeals Court again ruled last Wednesday that the government must immediately stop enforcing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Here’s an article with specifics on the ruling, but Rachel Maddow broke it down very well with guest Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach last Wednesday night.

I agree with Rachel and Lt. Col. Fehrenbach for the most part. We part ways, however, on advice to closeted soldiers and recruits. To put it simply, it is time for service members of every rank to come out of the closet.

The purpose of self-imposed, situational closeting by LGB service members has changed. It isn’t about finding a way for invisible lesbian and gay service members to serve their country anymore, and it isn’t about sacrificing to that end. No, self-imposed closeting in 2011 is about playing it safe.

Well sorry, you don’t get to do that. Maybe in a generation, or even a half-generation if we play it right, but that just isn’t possible right now. Remaining invisible at this crucial time damages the fight against DADT and the civil rights movement writ large. Frankly, it’s damage we can’t afford to take.

Ask. Tell. NOW.
Ask. Tell. NOW.

You are a pioneer, part of an elite force that will blaze the trail for those who follow you. Right now, in the middle of it, that sucks. I know.

It sucked for the first generation of African American soldiers after President Truman integrated the ranks in 1948. It sucked for the first generation of women soldiers after President Ford and Congress opened military academies to women in 1975.

And it will suck for you now as the first generation of LGB soldiers after President Obama and Congress allowed LGBs to serve openly in 2010.

I wish I could pin a medal on your jacket for that, I truly do, but knowing that you helped defeat bigotry in our time will have to do.