Friday, June 26, 2009

Not sure how I feel about this...

What's Right Is Right...

A friend forwarded me this e-mail today:

Did you know that the military is still discharging soldiers for being openly gay?

One of these soldiers is California's own Lt. Dan Choi, who is also an Arabic linguist. Lt. Choi is fighting the discharge and fighting the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and needs your help.

Lt. Choi goes on trial on Tuesday. I just signed a letter of support via the Courage Campaign for Lt. Choi, which he will bring with him to his trial.

Will you join me in signing and urge your friends to do the same before Tuesday's trial?:

My first response was: What part of "don't ask, don't tell" do you not understand? Openly gay...

As I considered bigotry, I considered the difference between homophobia and racism. It really isn't an“apples to apples” comparison. Lt. Choi is young enough that he joined the Army know of their "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. He signed paperwork upon entering West Point and upon being commissioned an officer in the United States Army knowing that to be openly gay was to violate Army policy and procedures.

Do I think it is the dumbest rule in the history of the world? Yes, certainly one of them. Do I think that homosexuals should be allowed to serve in the military? Yes, I do. But he knowing violated rules and signed enlistment papers under false pretenses. I don't know why he decided to be open about his lifestyle, it really isn't any of my business, but he did.

I think it is sad that someone can be patriotically moved to want to fight for this country and be told because of their sexual orientation. Pretty pathetic, really.

I condone no type of discrimination and I think the rule should be changed. I also think that unjust rules should be broken on principle. This form of political thought is called transcendentalism. It is a school of thought that started in New England in the 19th century with folks like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, among others.

Emerson wrote: "We will walk on our own feet; we will work with our own hands; we will speak our own minds ... A nation of men will for the first time exist, because each believes himself inspired by the Divine Soul which also inspires all men."

He also said:

“So shall we come to look at the world with new eyes. It shall answer the endless inquiry of the intellect, — What is truth? and of the affections, — What is good? by yielding itself passive to the educated Will. ... Build, therefore, your own world. As fast as you conform your life to the pure idea in your mind, that will unfold its great proportions. A correspondent revolution in things will attend the influx of the spirit.”

In the end, however, the transcendentalists believed that this living by their own moral compass would lead them into conflict with the state. They held that laws that we feel are unjust should be broken, but that we should be willing to pay the price for violating those laws as part of our statement of injustice.

My wanting the world to be different only does so much, John. I am not a militant revolutionary and I will not overthrow my government to ensure that homosexuals can serve in the military. Like the transcendentalists, I am an incrementalist. I believe that change is always happening.

10 years ago an effort was under-taken to ban same sex marriage. At that time, the ballot initiative prevailed by a huge margin. In 2008, after the California Supreme Court had struck down the previous effort, the vote was far, far closer. This is a generational issue. Old people are stupid as fuck and ignorant. But eventually they will die.

I am saddened that this is an ongoing debate, but I believe that it is not a matter of if full equal writes for homosexuals will occur, it is when. I do not believe in civil unions for same sex partners. I believe in full equality. Nothing less. Anything less would be to indicate that I believe they are somehow less than. My advocacy takes the form of voting, and calling out injustice when I see it.

I signed the petition, by the way, while I believe that Lt. Choi knowing violated the rules, I also believe he should never have to hide who he is to make someone ignorant feel comfortable.

God bless Lt. Choi and those who serve a nation that doesn’t recognize them as equals.