In yet another court setback for legislative discrimination, a federal judge has found that the US military ban on openly LGBT servicemen and women is discriminatory, unconstitutional – and counterproductive.
From the Washington Post:
U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips said the government’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is a violation of due process and First Amendment rights. Instead of being necessary for military readiness, she said, the policy has a “direct and deleterious effect” on the armed services.
Three things strike me about this verdict – its obvious common sense, the plaintiffs, and how it highlights the total absence of evidence for the case against equality.
Last month, Judge Walker found in the Prop 8 trial that the proponents’ case had absolutely no trustworthy evidence to support their case. Furthermore, the testimony of even the “expert witness” called in support of the proposition to ban gay marriage, was in fact used to support the claim that marriage equality serves to strengthen society. In a striking parallel, this verdict found that instead of supporting the view that the ban improves military morale and readiness, the ban is in fact deleterious.
U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips said the policy does not preserve military readiness, contrary to what Justice Department attorneys and many supporters have argued, because evidence shows that the policy in fact has had a “direct and deleterious effect” on the armed services.
Plaintiffs in the case were the GOP gay group, Log Cabin Republicans, who are often maligned by gay groups as an oxymoron (just as gay Catholics are), and have also encountered recent opposition from the rival group GOProud. This victory will greatly improve their reputation.
This victory for the Log Cabin Republicans adds another milestone in the Republican Party’s rapid transition towards increased acceptance of its gay members and advocacy for civil liberties regardless of sexual orientation. This change has been demonstrated by these recent legal initiatives, the inclusion of gay activist groups in the recent CPAC conference and the general lack of controversy when former GOP Chairman Ken Mehlman “came out” last week. While Republicans generally do not believe in giving special rights to minority groups, they believe strongly that all people should be equal under the law, including gay Americans.
Read more: Blog Critics.org
(I would qualify “Republicans” as “some Republicans”, or even “an increasing number of Republicans” – but still, the point is clear: this success can be credited to gay Republicans, who are clearly starting to find unprecedented acceptance within the party.)
But most important, is the obviousness of it all. For an observer from abroad, the continued existence of the ban is simply bizarre. Other countries of the democratic world do without it. A look at history shows how far removed it is from military tradition. In most periods, and in many cultures, male love has been specifically associated with the military. In Europe’s classical world, two Greek male lovers were present and decisive at the very start of democracy with the overthrow of the Athenian tyrant. For the sacred band of Thebes, male love was not only acceptable, it was compulsory. Many great classical military leaders, Alexander the Great and his father Phillip, Epaminondas, Julius Caesar, Hadrian, Hannibal and many others were known to have had sex with men.
In the Japanese Samurai military culture, many powerful generals took junior pages as sexual partners. Similar arrangements applied also in parts of Africa and elsewhere. In medieval Europe, homosexual activity was assumed to be particularly prevalent in all-male environments, such as the military – and the clergy. Later, it was claimed that the British Navy ran on a regimen of “rum, sodomy, and the lash”.
The policy to deliberately exclude gay men and women from military service is not based on any evidence that so doing will improve military effectiveness, but on simple prejudice and is plainly discriminatory. This verdict is just the latest in a series of victories, judicial and legislative, that serve to remove discrimination piece by piece from distinct pieces of American legislation. What is really needed though, is an all-encompassing rule to outlaw discrimination of all kinds, wherever it is found.
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