…because it seems like we need to.
I am relieved and appalled to see this getting picked up by feminist sites. Really. And I know that I am not important or a big enough voice for anyone to be all “hey, I think that blogger who babbles over there and who yaps ’bout military things over at Change.org might know a thing or two about this”, but it might be nice if feminist bloggers thought outside their circle of each other once in a while… I am not the only voice out there with this kind of wisdom who could aid them if they insist on talking “about” the military, instead of “with”.
But we’ve been there before, so let’s move on.
So, I’m reading “Organized Effort or Publicity Stunt”, and my eyebrows almost fell off of my head because of my eyes rolling so hard.
And the discussion going on over at Change.org’s Gay Rights blog revealed to me that some people don’t understand how discharges work.
When one is honorably discharged from the military one is still authorized to wear the uniform and be addressed by the rank/pay grade they held at the time of their discharge. Retired personnel also. I have a friend whose father is a retired Lt. Col. and I call him Colonel (b/c it is customary to drop the “Lt.” at times, just as there are times when you can also drop the “Senior” or “Master” from Sr. or Master Chief in some informal situations), both to his chagrin and amusement. It’s the prior enlisted in me. I still answer to “Petty Officer”, and there are places where we run into people who still call me that. So, Lt. Choi, while not still in the Army, is still Lt. Choi, and can still wear that uniform. Proudly, even, I would say.
There are several other things I want to say here, and now, for the first time, now that he has crossed a new line, I no longer feel safe saying so, knowing that my identity is out there for you all to find, and that my status as a U.S. Veteran and as a military spouse of an active duty member might actually prevent me from stating some things at this time. I have to protect myself and my husband here under some codes of conduct that might technically still apply to me. There are things I can say and write because being a veteran is a lot more free than being active duty, but this is a grey area of which I am no longer sure. My career and my life intersect in a funny place now.
What I can say though, is that in response to thoughts like “is this just a publicity stunt” is that someone who would do something like appear at a civil disturbance and chain themselves to the White House fence in their uniform, knowing full well what the UCMJ expects of people wearing uniforms, is not just doing this for attention. You do not go running into that situation without thinking that through. Dan Choi has crossed from That Officer Who Was Discharged Under DADT to That Officer Who Went to a Demonstration in His Uniform. He could possibly be brought up on charges under an Article 92.
He really put his neck on the line for his cause today. If it was just for publicity, well, it worked, but it also won’t do him much good, because putting yourself out there like that, in your uniform, is going to get you in a world of trouble.
So, Samhita asks “does it just make him lose credibility?”, and I have to say, no, it doesn’t.
It gives Choi, and let’s not forget the Army Captain, Capt. James Pietrangelo, creedence.
According to AMERICAblog, they are being held and charged with “failure to follow a lawful order” (which makes sense under Article 92). They knew this would happen. Just as they were trained to put their lives on the line for their country they have come here to the front line to put their lives on the line for this war, the war on their own lives.
The real publicity stunt is people who are neither gay nor in the military standing up and staging rallies and then acting surprised when actual gay servicemembers show up. The ones who are unwilling to support actual gay servicemembers who are doing exactly what their military training has taught them to do, and who are ready to pay the price that their military training told them they would pay. Battle strategy tells you that “Hope” isn’t a strategy. You have to go in and do something.
But, people would know this if they tried talking to and working with military people who are involved in these issues rather than just talking about them or working for them. It’s great that everyone cares and all, but the military is another subculture that has rules of its own.
You usually buy a book or consult a travel guide when you visit another country. You might try ours.
One more thought: People keep dropping the “T” from “LGBT” when talking about DADT. If you think that the “T” doesn’t apply to the military, if you honestly think that there are no people falling into the T who are serving in the military right now, well you enjoy that ignorance you are living in. I promise you there are people already T and in. It’s not like we make them wear a sign, because there is no obvious marker that screams “this person is T or otherwise outside your binary!”.
If I have somehow used problematic language there, please feel free to (politely) help me out here.