Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A bad day for bigots

Express Staff Writer

Since the commonsense movement to repeal "Don't ask, don't tell" caught fire, and climaxed Friday when the law was taken off the books in a stunning triumph for President Obama, opponents have used every lame excuse they could drum up to ban gays in uniform.

Gays would destroy morale in the ranks. Gays and non-gays would need separate barracks. Wartime (Afghanistan and Iraq) was no time to make a change. The U.S. economy couldn't handle the costs. Heterosexual men and women would resign in droves.

The most far-fetched objection was from Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos, who said gay gyrenes would be "distracting" and lead to combat deaths.

Distracting? Does Amos expect gay Marines to show up in high heels and thigh-slit sheath dresses with fuchsia-colored weapons?

There's a general who needs a refresher on combat command. Instead of predicting failure in combat because gay and straight Marines would be fighting alongside each other, most senior officers would've echoed dialogue of the fictional tough-as-nails Marine Col. Nathan Jessup in the film "A Few Good Men."

Said Jessup (as played by actor Jack Nicholson), "We follow orders, son. We follow orders or people die. It's that simple." As a senior NCO in our cavalry unit liked to say to young GIs, "Nothing gets your attention like being shot at."

Of the more than 13,000 military personnel discharged for being gay, including Marines, I've heard of none that were "distracting" or were tossed out for sexual misconduct. Upward of 80 percent of military personnel polled said they've served with gay troops and aren't bothered (or distracted) by gay personnel.

Gays have been fixtures for years in armed forces of major nations.

Arguments against repealing "Don't ask" are essentially the same blowhard attempts to incite fear that politicians of earlier generations used to oppose integration of black Americans into the services and women being given equal rights in the military.

Blacks, portrayed by racists as intellectually inferior, have excelled in every branch, including as chair of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Colin Powell.

Women, supposedly disabled by menstrual cycles, fly the fastest, largest military aircraft (including combat missions off Navy carriers) and also command ships.

And until "outed," gays have served honorably, bravely and without notice.

The opposition's acid-tongued leader, Sen. John McCain, called the Senate's repeal vote "a sad day."

Indeed, but not how McCain intended. What's sad is that among McCain's other character failings that've been unmasked in recent months, his 180-degree turnabout from being a repeal supporter to repeal opponent now reveals your basic bigot.

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