“Discrimination of any kind has no place in America’s armed forces.”
―U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter
… yeah, and don’t get me started on the word meritocracy ....
Raise a glass to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Tuesday that gay and lesbian troops for the first time will be protected from discrimination by the same equal opportunity policy that protects other servicemembers.
Carter announced the change at the Pentagon’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride event.
The change ensures that gay and lesbian troops’ complaints about discrimination based on sexual orientation will be investigated by the Military Equal Opportunity program, the same office that handles complaints based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
“Discrimination of any kind has no place in America’s armed forces,” Carter said.
I admit that after I outgrew childhood dreams of glory it really did become difficult to comprehend why anybody would want to be a soldier. Just sayin’. I mean, there are all sorts of jokes over the years; what was that one Doonesbury about signing up for the college benefits, not for a war? You know, that sort of thing. And it’s also true I have known families in which military service is traditional. But still, I don’t get it. What, would I join the military but only if I got to stay home and do paperwork instead of go fight and kill and maybe die?
Never mind. That’s me, and my own damn problem.
Reality, after all, doesn’t give a damn about what I wonder. People still apparently want to join the military.
We can certainly continue to fret about our estimated fifteen thousand transgendered service personnel; the armed forces can still kick them out for (ahem!) “health” reasons. But at the same time, a periodic policy review is underway, the Secretary seems to want to end the policy, and the services themselvs―including the Air Force―are leading the way by adding extra steps and requiring higher approval for those discharge processes.
That review is going to take a while; it is unfair to expect more good news next week, or next month. Maybe we can hope for substantive answers and substantial policy revisions next year, but in any question involving such bureaucracies, I certainly won’t be holding my breath.
But, you know. They’re on it.
And today was a good day.
Today brought something real and substantial.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
Image note: 19 May 2011: Defense Undersecretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, Ashton Carter testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Vanden Brook, Tom. “Gay and lesbian troops will be protected by new Pentagon policy”. USA Today. 9 June 2015.