Thursday, July 27, 2006
( 6:26 AM )
Army of One (eventually)
An article appears today about a 30-year old 4-year soldier attached to the 82nd Airborne as an arabic translator was discharged because he is gay. Under the "don't ask, don't tell." one of the first major travesties of the Clinton administration (I may be liberal, but I'm not an idiot), a member of the military will lose his/her career if they are outed as being gay, whether it is them who says it or someone else. In this case, 30-year old Bleu Copas didn't tell - so someone else did. And because of that, he has lost his military career. Not only that, he's been given the scarlet letter ("G!") on his discharge papers.
At a time when the U.S. military is struggling with recruitment and respect, especially the army, the government continues to excercise a prejudiced policy that is actually cripling the military's ability to function well:
More than 11,000 service members have been dismissed under the policy, including 726 last year — an 11 percent jump from 2004 and the first increase since 2001. [...]
But the GAO also noted that nearly 800 dismissed gay or lesbian service members had critical abilities, including 300 with important language skills. Fifty-five were proficient in Arabic, including Copas, a graduate of the Defense Language Institute in California.
Discharging and replacing them has cost the
Pentagon nearly $369 million, according to the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
It's a ridiculous policy. Many retired generals have spoken out against it. But it's long past time to argue the discrimination argument (these guys are voluntarily serving our country at the risk of their own lives!!). Frankly, by this time it's a national security issue. If the government says that listening to our phone calls and tracking Americans' banking transactions are tactics necessary to preserving national security. Surely cutting off hundreds of military personnel who are essential and rare - especially arabic translators - hurts this country.
Of course, I suppose if the government was worried about things like being able to translate arabic, there'd probably not be 2800 dead coalition soldiers and 100's of thousands of dead Iraqi people right now. But who's counting?
No one at this point, apparently.