The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Requirements of an American soldier

In 1993, President Clinton instituted the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which allows homosexuals to serve in the military as long as they are not open about their sexuality.

Clinton said that this was a necessary measure to end the “witch hunts” that were taking place as a result of the ban of all gays from the military. He claimed then that this was an “honorable compromise.” General Colin J. Powell who helped draft the document said, “I think we have come up with a solution that we can all live with.”

Over a decade and a half later, the policy is being reconsidered.

In 1993, the debate was concerned with whether homosexuals should be allowed into the army at all. Today, the debate is whether or not their sexuality must remain a private matter.

President Barack Obama, who has always publicly been in favor of gay rights, announced during his State of the Union address that he has the intention of repealing the DADT act.

Two ROTC cadets from SMU, who must remain anonymous, said that when they realized the importance of this current debate, they researched the actual document and determined it was in place for a reason.

“Having this policy in place keeps unit cohesion, which is necessary in a combat situation,” one cadet said. “It wouldn’t affect me personally, but it could be a distraction from unit cohesion. If just one person is not 100% focused on the mission, people die.”

“Joining the military is a choice,” the other cadet said. He went on to say that anyone’s personal or sexual life is not something that needs public disclosure.

“You don’t join the army for yourself,” the first said, “you join to serve. It’s for the good of the nation.”

But what if you are gay and you want to serve your country?

Meet Aaron, a transgender female-to-male student at SMU. About a year and a half ago, he had plans to join the National Guard. Having just recently come to terms with his sexuality, Aaron struggled with the prospect of having to give up that part of himself in order to even meet with recruiters.

“When you sign the form, you have to sign on to say that you are not committing fraud,” he said, “which I thought I was.”

On the other hand, he recognizes the logic that the military employed when writing DADT, as it functions upon the premise that homosexuality is a mental illness or disorder.

“Anyone who’s taken logic [understands] there are premises and conclusions,” he said.  “In real world application, you have to do something with your conclusion, so to the military this policy is logical. But in this case, I say examine the premise.”

Both sides agree that once you are in the military, your sexuality and personal life do not and should not play a role in carrying out your mission.

“You become a tool to the military,” Aaron said. “[The military] is the culture of accomplishing the mission, it doesn’t matter whether you, the soldier, agree with the mission. When you join the military, you basically give up your opinions.”

Hannah Goode-Webster, a student and the wife of an attack pilot, said she agrees with the necessity of uniformity, but she worries about the repeal of the policy because of the way that the average soldier views homosexuals.

“Army soldiers are mostly all very conservative and view the military accordingly,” she said. “I can’t see someone who is openly gay, being ‘one of the guys’, especially where [my husband] is.”

She said that all of the men who work with her husband are very hardcore, and each member of the unit needs to fit the criteria in order to function as a team for their own safety.

“What makes a non-heterosexual person unfit for service?” Aaron asks. “Well, nothing. In the military, soldiers are not sexual beings. You put on the uniform; you are a soldier. Your uniform takes away your sexuality.”

For those who are fighting for the repeal of this policy, allowing gays into the military is not the issue; they are already there. Aaron says the concern is that as a homosexual soldier you are forced to live in fear of losing your career because of who you are.

Since both homosexuals and heterosexuals participate in inappropriate behavior,

“Sexuality needs to be explicitly addressed – what is appropriate, what isn’t appropriate,” he said. “Soldiers are supposed to be told what to do.”

According to the US Department of Defense, over 12,500 soldiers have been discharged from service since 1993 for being gay, 428 in 2009 alone. Aaron may be one of many who attempted to serve in spite of the policy, only to find themselves faced with the reality that they would be committing fraud.

The Soldier’s Creed requires all soldiers to swear “I will always place the mission first….  always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.”

As the debate over DADT heightens, certain military personnel may wonder whether they will continue to remain silent in order to maintain the image of the heterosexual soldier, or perhaps will shed their camouflage to reveal their true selves.  While other members of the service hold that the strong, singular image of the military is required to allow them to say in unison:

“I am an American soldier.”


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