Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Truth and Consequences: The Don't Ask Don't Tell Policy

(Reminder: my photography is copyrighted and cannot be used without my permission. Hint: if you ask and attribute me, I'll probably tell you "yes" you can use my work!)

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 :)


Rukhpar Mor said...

Assalam Alaykum,

I never really thought about it that way. I figured that as a Muslim, I am supposed to just be against it no matter what. I still feel uncomfortable thinking about it, even though I do have gay friends.


The Dynamic Hamza 21® said...

wow this diatribe for support of homosexualphilia reveals a distorted view upon Islam's principled stand against homosexuality. You clearly don't understand the issue at hand.

Islam stands firm against homosexuality on the grounds of it's against the fitrah and dignity of a human being. Humans were created by Allah with a dignity that in any way shall by oppressed by self or others. Indeed homosexualphilia is oppression of individual by their self allowing their lusts and desires to rule over morality and dignity.

This obsessive behaviour by homosexuals (and yes homosexuality is an voluntary act not a nationality,ethnicity or hereditary trait) is no different than other obsessive behaviour like self mutilation (cutting,hair pulling,etc). It a behaviour that injures the self and society. As well as denies the Creator his rights (as Al Hakim & Al Alim) and implies He was wrong when he forbade it. Na' oodhu Billah!

This is just a short comment I can't go into depth into this issue but suffice to say, don't believe hype my sister. Homosexuality is all about sex. Sex is an voluntary act, a conscious choice. Any Muslim who has fasted during Ramadaan knows that they are in full control of their behaviour.

For certain Muslims stand for justice but the "rights" you speak being denied by homosexuals are not rights but mere opinions.

(4:01- 4:40 is especially relevant)

Ma as Salamah

Safiyyah said...

Salaams The Dynamic Hamza 21:

My "diatribe" is actually for support of all Americans to be able to serve in the US military as long as they meet the qualifications, and as long as the qualifications are not anti-identity ... ANY identity.

As a Muslim, I agree with most you have said.

Welcome to my site, and all comments are welcomed here as long as they are respectful. And yours is! JAK!

wan zaharizan b wan zan said...

In Islam as far as I know dignity of humans are sacred. Yes I dare say Gay or homosexual and lesbianism does exist in the Islamic world. To say no is to lie to ourselves. It is difficult to eradicate it, so it is a matter of choice. As long as the tryst is behind close door and it lies in the private domain the indulgence of sodom and gommorah can occur for privacy law is well guarded by Syariah. The law on acts on homosexualism is takzil that means ideas formulated by the ulamaks base on other laws of sexual transgressions.
The evidence required is so strict that you can't catch them thus that is why i mean by Islamic guarding our privacy well. I am not a homosexual like what our prophet says those people are not of my flock I think is enough to show his disdain for these people but when it comes to punishment or hell he live it up to God and we should too! They might be better Muslims than us with a slight predilection for something deviant!

NtN said...

If the US actually followed the rules of DADT, I doubt there would be as many issues as there are today.

I know a few ex-soldiers who have been discharged through DADT. They were never open about their sexuality and someone sought it out, then provided that information to the government. If the gov't would like to have DADT, they have to hold up their end.

(And as a note, I do have LGBT friends, with whom I've been friends with for at least a decade, on average. Their sex lives, just like mine and my husband's, are private information that we do not share or talk about. They are all in committed relationships (engaged or married), which works for them. I don't judge their lifestyles, just as they don't judge mine. That judgment is for Allah SWT alone and I feel a lot of Muslims out there could use a lesson on who's in charge of judgment.)

Jules UmmEmJoey said...

Great post! I agree with you!

Anonymous said...

Important posts. And I love the parallels you drew to what is in the Qur'an about not revealing our sins and oppressing others. I like how you're keeping it real as there are Muslims from every walk of life, and the most important thing is the shahada. Anyone who has believed in the shahada will eventually go to heaven, insh'Allah, as related in many hadiths, even if they need some purification in the fire first. I think it is important that we as Muslims learn to point the fingers at ourselves first before other Muslims, non-Muslims, and anything else.