the end of don’t ask, don’t tell

Today is the first day of the U.S. military’s acceptance of lesbian, gay, and bisexual personnel (which, by the way, scatterplot predicted last year–who says sociology can’t predict the future?). The NY Times has a very moving story of one Airforce officer, Lt. Josh Seefried, who came out of the closet this morning at 12:01am. Lt. Seefried had covertly organized 4,000 LGB military personnel in an underground social movement group. 4,000! That it “no longer matters” whether someone is gay or straight matters very much to these people, of course.

While clearly this won’t remove the institutionalized homophobia or hypermasculinity of the armed services, it will take away a very effective tool of harassment of LGB soldiers, who now cannot be discharged simply for being gay. We are going to need some process for collecting data about ongoing harassment and the forms it takes, and whether dishonorable discharge for other reasons is used disproportionately on LGB people.

And I would love to see a study of how much, and how quickly, the culture of the armed services becomes more accepting of its LGB members, who were of course there and serving all along. In Canada, the army chaplains perform same-sex marriage ceremonies within the military, which of course doesn’t mean that LGB soldiers are fully accepted, but it is a sign of progress, isn’t it?

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