Last night, I attended a lecture at Susquehanna University on the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" (DADT) policy and its consequences on men and women in the US military and our country as a whole.
The guest speaker was US Army Lt. Daniel Choi, West Point graduate, Arabic linguist, Iraq veteran, and activist for the repeal of the DADT policy.
When Lt. Choi "came out" on The Rachel Maddow Show by publically announcing, "I am gay," the Army notified him one month later that they were beginning discharge proceedings against him.
Since then, Lt. Choi has been a tireless advocate for the repeal of the DADT policy. He appears on television, gives lectures, and participates in public demonstrations, and as of late, engages in civil disobedience as evidenced by his arrest last week for chaining himself to the White House fence.
"The DADT policy is the common term for the policy restricting the United States military from efforts to discover or reveal closeted gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members or applicants, while barring those that are openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual from military service. The restrictions are mandated by federal law... the policy prohibits anyone who 'demonstrate(s) a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts' from serving in the armed forces of the United States, because 'it would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability'... the act prohibits any homosexual or bisexual person from disclosing his or her sexual orientation or from speaking about any homosexual relationships, including marriages or other familial attributes, while serving in the United States armed forces." (from lecture program)
Lt. Choi and others believe that it is time to hold President Obama to his campaign promise to end DADT.
Numerous foreign armies, including Britain and Israel, have integrated openly gay people into their ranks with little negative effect on effectiveness and recruitment. In Britain, this change was a result of an order from the European Court of Human Rights. Gay partners are now afforded full benefits.
What about the US? America? Land of the free and home of the brave? Where all citizens are guaranteed the right to freedom and happiness?
If the partner of a gay American military person dies overseas, the partner is not even notified by the military, yet alone given any benefits!
America: where a gay Mississippi high school student, Constance McMillan, was barred from taking her girlfriend to the prom?
Hello?! Most of us can remember being at high school dances and proms and going with another girl (or your big brother or cousin, lol) because we couldn't get a date with a boy. No one said anything about it.
And it's probably still okay in a lot of situations -- unless you TELL that your female friend is actually your lesbian girlfriend.
Why should gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered (GLBT) people be harrassed and discriminated against, have their human and civil rights taken away in a country like America?!
Why should GLBT be fired from jobs or have their child custody challenged because of their sexual preference?
Why are identity politics such a big deal in our beautiful United States?
At a time, when America is engaged in two wars, at a time when the forces and their families are stretched by multiple deployments, etc., why should we be denying otherwise qualified military applicants from serving soley on them being truthful about their sexual identity?
It just doesn't make sense. It just a'int right!
No matter where you personally stand, no matter what your personal position is, you have to admit that it is a national shame in a great country like America to have a military policy such as DADT.
Hasn't this country been here before? Excluding folks from the military based on identity politics? Blacks? Women? Japanese? All people with criminal records no matter what their crime is?
As Muslims, we know that our deen tells us that homosexuality is not an option for us. The only "halal" sex between Muslims is that between a married man and his wife/wives.
DADT is an Islamic concept in a way. After all, most Muslims know it is bad adab (manners) to ask someone something deeply personal or something that the person might not want to discuss, reveal, or have known about himself.
Allah swt also tells us in the Qur'an not to reveal our "sins" to anyone else. He promises us His mercy and forgiveness as long as we don't "lift the veil" in the morning by talking about it.
And of course, there are NO LGBT MUSLIMS now, are there?!!!! I'm sure there are no LGBT Muslims serving in the Muslim-populated countries' military forces now, are there?!!!
Of course not! LOL!
As Muslims, we know that no one has the right to oppress anyone ... for any reason.
Allah swt even prohibited oppression for Himself!
Finally, you don't have to be LGBT to have a "propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts." Remember Abu Ghrayb? Or ask anyone who is incarcerated who is "gay for the stay."
As Muslims, we stand up for justice. It's not just for our government to oppress any of its citizens for any reason. It can be us (Muslims) next. Think they're keeping an eye on Muslim service men and women after what Major Hasan did?!
Congratulations and thanks to Susquehanna University, The Gender & Sexuality Alliance, Susquehanna University College Democrats, and The Center for Diversity and Social Justice for sponsoring Lt. Choi's lecture, and for making it free and open to the public.
The reception, coffee, brownies, and cookies at the end weren't bad either :)