[Marxism] Gay Republicans' closing argument for repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jul 23 17:53:36 MDT 2010

David Thorstad wrote:
> I don't disagree with this rather obvious and low-level argument. 
> Although I think hoping that same-sexers living openly in the military 
> is going to somehow lead to organizing AGAINST imperialism from within 
> the military is dreaming with your eyes open. Hell, I haven't even heard 
> of GIs in Iraq or Afghanistan fragging their officers.

That's because there is not a draft, but there was a significant antiwar 
contingent among Iraq war veterans. Less so now, since the casualties 
have decreased.

> There's nothing 
> even close to the Fort Jackson Eight (used to be Nine, but one turned 
> out to be an agent) involved in the patriotic efforts by gays to get 
> into the military and repeal DADT. You are conflating two different 
> issues. And your position coincides with that of the gay Republicans, 
> who, in their brief (redolent of repugnant patriotism, as indeed the 
> whole campaign to repeal DADT is), focus on how repeal with help U.S. 
> imperialism--which it will, as I said.

I don't care if neo-Nazis are opposed to DADT. I don't make my political 
decisions based on putting a minus where some rightwing shit puts a 
plus. Furthermore, opposing repressive rules against gay people in the 
military is a democratic demand parallel to opposing racially segregated 
units during Jim Crow. Even if the US military is the number one 
enforcer of capitalist rule in the world, we opposed efforts to keep 
Black troops in their own units, just as we oppose discriminatory 
treatment of gay people.

> We should 
> explain what is wrong with wanting to join the military, to participate 
> in its criminal enterprise. 

Of course, but we have to fight to end this type of treatment as well:

Gay soldier discharged for being beaten
By David Hoskins
Published Jan 22, 2006 11:15 AM

A 19-year-old Army private, Kyle Lawson, was physically assaulted and 
threatened for being gay at the Fort Huachuca Army Base in Arizona. The 
Army discharged Lawson after a fellow soldier violently beat him.

Lawson suffered a broken nose in the attack. His attacker—Pvt. Zacharias 
Pierre—reportedly used an anti-gay epithet during the attack. Lawson was 
later threatened at knifepoint by another soldier. Lawson’s sexual 
orientation had been revealed by an acquaintance at an October 2005 
battalion party.

Fearful for his life, Pvt. Lawson began to sleep on a cot in his drill 
sergeant’s office. Local police originally charged Pierre with felony 
assault. Police reports confirm that the attack on Lawson was 
unprovoked. Fort Huachuca officials used military regulations to take 
control of the case away from the Sierra Vista police. The officials 
promptly dropped the felony assault charges after the case was 
successfully transferred to military jurisdiction.

Media reports indicate that Pierre has received little more than a slap 
on the wrist for attacking Lawson. Officials have refused to comment on 
why the initial charges were dropped or what actions were taken. The 
army claims that the knife threat is “unsubstantiated” and has refused 
to further investigate the incident.

Patricia Kutteles, the mother of a soldier killed by other members of 
the military in 1999 for dating a transsexual woman, has spoken out 
against the Army’s foot-dragging. She criticized military policy 
regulating service members’ sexual orientation, saying, “‘Don’t ask, 
don’t tell’ impacts every service member—gay and straight alike—by 
creating a weapon to end careers and endanger service members through 
accusations, finger-pointing and rumor.”

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is the 1993 law that prevents lesbian, gay and 
bisexual GIs from being open about their sexuality. The law punishes 
those whose sexual orientation is revealed with the threat of discharge. 
Proponents of the law insist that it also protects service members who 
are harassed because of their perceived sexual orientation. The events 
at Fort Huachuca prove that claims of harassment prevention are mere 
lip-service as violent intimidation is still condoned by military 
officials and fueled by the Pentagon’s anti-gay policies.

The brutal death of Kutteles’ son, Army Pvt. Barry Winchell, prompted 
the Pentagon to outline more concrete proposals supposedly aimed at 
curbing harassment based on sexual orientation. In 2000 the Pentagon 
released its so-called anti-harassment plan. Almost five years later 
violent harassment still occurs with impunity.

Openly gay Massachusetts Congress person Barney Frank wrote to Army 
Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Shoomaker demanding answers for why Lawson’s 
attacker has gone unpunished.

Military officials have failed to offer a full account and justification 
of their actions. Pvt. Lawson’s story indicates that homophobic and 
anti-trans violence is still condoned and tolerated. The military 
remains an unsafe environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans GIs 
who live in constant fear of ridicule, discharge, assault and even murder.

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