By: Savannah Seithel
It’s been around for decades- The US Military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. The proposal, once preached as a compromise between those who want rights and those who want to take them, is now emphasizing the already dire conditions of gay hatred in America. This legalized discrimination, while costing the U.S. millions of dollars, hurts all Americans, because everyone suffers from ignorance.
A commission of military experts announced last month that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy has cost taxpayers 363.8 million dollars in the past ten years. In a time where funding is too short in schools to allow for many basic necessities, where many government held plans for the sick, elderly, and inhibited are falling apart because they have no monetary support, and where citizens in need of government help are constantly falling through the cracks, $363.8 million is an enormous number. According to C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of the Servicemember’s Legal Defense Network, says that $363.8 million could buy 3 dozen – 36 Blackhawk helicopters, 4,000 sidewinder missiles, or enough body armor vests to outfit the entire military force now in Iraq. This misjudged, wasteful movement of funds takes money from the war effort and shrinks the number of soldiers even as the recruiting numbers continue to fall sharply. Were those millions spent on helping the homeless or giving tax breaks to the poor, angry government watchdogs would question why our money should be wasted on those who will not work for their own and are therefore undeserving. Why is it that money is considered wasted when it is spent helping those in need, but not when it is spent hurting those who wish to serve America?
Of course, the policy has very adamant supporters. A group based in Topeka, Kansas is currently picketing outside the funerals of both gay people and soldiers who have died in the war. Supporting signs emblazoned with “God Hates Fags,” they preach that the reason why soldiers are dieing in the war is because the USA is still too tolerant of gays. This absurd and depressing movement actually teaches that God created missiles and roadside bombs in order to punish those in America and the world who believe in equality.
Fighting this are the Equality Riders, a group of young men and women who have been “other-then-honorably” discharged from the military because of their sexual orientation. These young veterans travel coast to coast to talk about their love and devotion to the country and about the injustices they have suffered. The bravado they show in the face of adversity is astounding, for they have the courage to speak out when others would silence them with hatred and a selfish belief that their life and beliefs are the right and only.
Something is wrong with America, when fighting against a group of people becomes more important than fighting for freedom. When the citizens are so desperate for a scapegoat that they blame war casualties on an unrelated group of people? As is translated from Hitler’s Mein Kampf, "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord." What is wrong with America?