John McCain was a bona-fide war hero. Forty years ago he was a prisoner of war in Viet Nam. John McCain was a courageous politician. Eight years ago he put his name on major campaign finance reform legislation. There was much to admire about this man. However, things seemed to have gone south for him once he began his run as the Republican candidate for President. He felt the need to appease the Rabid Right. Suddenly the maverick began to seem more like a petty, pandering politician.
Recently he has been taking up the fight to preserve “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). It is hard for me to imagine the basis on which a person would work feverishly to keep it in place. In the past months McCain has professed that he is neither for nor against DADT, but that he wanted to wait until the military can complete it’s study and survey on the issue. He got his wish. Congress waited. But now that the report is about to come out suddenly, McCain is moving the goal post to delay the issue again.
I cannot see any reasonable legal reason that gay and lesbian citizens should not be able to serve our country by joining the military. All of the reasons I hear amount to little more than trying to accommodate other people’s prejudice. I am sorry that people are prejudiced against gays and lesbians, but if anyone should be barred from service, it would seem to make more sense to bar those who have such prejudices rather than those who are the victims of their prejudice.
Some believe that homosexuality is a sin. That is fine, and that is certainly their right. Even if we consider it as such, are we really suggesting that people who sin can’t serve? I would expect only those who want to eliminate our military to support such a policy, since anyone who thinks homosexuality is a sin also believes that we are all sinners. Who could serve if that were the criteria?
All of the excuses why we should support DADT seem lame and they have a familiar ring to them. How often have we heard similar hand-wringing when it comes to extending rights to all people? This hand-wringing seems particularly silly considering the context is the military. Here’s a guy who suffered for five years as a prisoner of war, and he’s worried that soldiers are so fragile they may not be able to handle uninvited flirting from a soldier of their same sex? Please! Do we really think in the culture of the military that straight soldiers might feel intimidated or harassed by their gay peers? The military has already incorporated women into their ranks. Does anybody think that a straight soldier is likely to receive more trouble from a gay soldier than female soldiers get from their straight male peers?
The arguments against gays serving in the military seem ridiculously antiquated and un-American to me. The arguments against gays being open about their relationships seem silly and mean-spirited. The only reason I can imagine that he is fighting this fight is because he has bought into the Republican political strategy to sacrifice America for the sake of the Republican party by opposing everything that Obama supports regardless of its merits. I am sorely disappointed that a man with the history of courage that John McCain has shown would join the ranks of those trying to block the abolition of DADT.
What many seem to refuse to acknowledge is that equal rights for homosexuals is this generation’s civil rights fight. People of my generation and certainly those from McCain’s seem to believe that it isn’t that big of a deal. We romanticize the fight for civil rights that we experienced fifty years ago. We have a list of reasons why the cause for the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender) community does not rise to the same level of nobility as the cause for African-Americans. But in fifty years, it will be the fight for equal rights among the LGBT community that is romanticized. And McCain’s actions to block it will make him appear to be a small and bigoted man.