Sunday’s National Equality March in DC drew over 200,000 people and may have established itself as a rallying point for the gay rights movement. But rather than discuss its accomplishments—which can be read about in a nice piece on The Nation‘s website—I’d like to take issue with one of the movement’s main objectives: gaining the right to serve openly in the military.
I’ve often wondered why this is such an important goal. Yes, “don’t ask, don’t tell” is an offensive policy both in name and in execution. Not only was it a pathetic compromise when it was first approved by President Clinton in 1993, but it effectively continued the persecution of a group of people. So, I understand the anger. What I don’t understand is how the gay rights movement expects the repeal of that policy to create equality.
The military not only prays on, but inflames inequality. Why is this something the LGBT community wants to participate in? Why do they want to become equal accomplices in the exploitation of lower class Americans and the death of innocent families and the destruction of whole societies in Iraq and Afghanistan? Is America really a better place when an openly gay person can launch a drone attack on the poor isolated people of Pakistan?
I’m certain many people within the LGBT community oppose the current wars, but why doesn’t the gay rights movement? Why does it instead insist upon bolstering the military? David Mixner, the gay rights organizer who first forwarded the idea of the march, is also an antiwar activist. He wanted the march to focus on marriage equality, but also said, “The most striking [issue] outside that institution would be the freedom to serve in our nation’s military.”
There’s something wrong when an antiwar activist has to take a pro-war stance to fight for gay rights. And to think the right wing considers this movement “radical.”
The Daily Show picked up on this irony earlier in the week. When talking about the lack of major network news coverage, Jon Stewart observed that the march “had everything Fox loves: ordinary people demanding their freedoms, homemade signs, flags, and men in uniform.” While the joke was clearly on Fox and intended to show the patriotic wants of the gay rights movement as a good thing, I couldn’t help but feel the opposite.
In another segment, taped during the march, correspondent John Oliver recounted his attempt to “find out what their harrowing vision for America was all about.” While playing the role of a homophobe, clearly brainwashed by right wing pundits who think there’s such a thing as “a radical gay agenda”, Oliver basically uncovers what I would consider the sad truth of the matter: that there is nothing radical about the gay rights movement.
In a scene that unintentionally proves my point, Oliver asked a gay man if he would “detonate the gay bomb in the middle of Washington DC” if a commanding officer gave the order. While the joke is clearly intended as a clever jab at a preposterous weapon actually pursued by the US Air Force, the man’s answer is what struck me: “I’m here to serve my country. If that was my command I would say yes sir.”
Do we really need more people taking orders that lead to death and destruction? Maybe it’s time to adopt a radical gay agenda that opposes war because as Dr. King once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
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