By Kelli Busey
July 02, 2008
A CBS special titled “Military Soft On Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? 60 Minutes: Is Military More Tolerant Of Gay Members In Wartime?”
I am sure that the title of this series could easily lead people to beleave it’s content would pander to the homophobic agenda. Instead it presents a human insight to the conundrum facing many of us who served. How can I serve my county faithfully as a LGBT person? To openly admit your sexual affinity to your commanding officer could set into motion a series of events that even the most loyal of officers can not stop. General Court Martial Article 15 of the United States Military Code. I know this code like a old friend, it can be used as a gentle nudge to remind a slightly errant soldier of minor infractions or as a trial by a General Officer where the people stand accused and convicted by a single person, only waiting sentencing.
As a non commissioned officer I was ordered to witness this mock justice performed on my section Sergeant.
What was once a brave and wonderful man was stripped of his dignity and reduced to a crying and pitiful shadow. I could not help but beleave that this show was performed in part for my benefit so I could pass what I had seen on to my fellow soldiers.
Instead what happened almost cost me my stripes, and freedom but I kept my self respect and the respect of my fellow solders to include the very people who where being forced to perform this mockery of justice.
My Sergeant and I served in units who’s isolated mountain top operations requires it to be far from any official brigs. Our jobs required high levels of security and technical training, not a highly desirable position mainly filled by people like us. So in this capacity I was ordered to insure that my Sergeant remained in a barracks lock down under armed guard.
Since it was a weekend and I didn’t want to burden my troops with this despicable extra duty I remained to stand watch.
My Sergeant and I had discussed our positions. He fully understood that I would honor my oath of allegiance and use all means at my disposal to prevent him from escaping. We also talked about the mock justice we were a part of. I cried when my friend cried. I felt the loss of belief in god and country as my sergeant did. So when he asked me if his girlfriend could spend the weekend with him before he went to Leavenworth I made sure they were not disturbed. When he asked me if he could have beer I sent my runner to fetch it.
My Sergeant was still drunk and laid silly come the Monday morning he was scheduled for movement. Now it was my turn to “stand on the carpet” and “see the old man”.
I did not fear this because my Commander was a good man, and I felt the indiscretion was a fair treatment for a unfairly condemned man. I also took great pride in this blatant act of defiance.
My Commander asked me if I know of the brevity of the situation and I replied yes sir. I received a administrative Article 15, a slap on the wrist.
What we see in the Army’s reaction to LGBT people is in fact a reflection of the strong race bigotry that is unofficially condoned. As a person who was “different” I became very close to others who did not exactly match the Aryan picture uncle wanted. These people became my life blood. Sometimes I would be questioned as to why white people acted so offensively and to this I can only shrug my shoulders. I was not born with a active bigot bone.
What we are witnessing in the different reactions that the population is demonstrating in IRAQ to the European approach and ours is not exclusively a demographically universal response of the indigent population.
It mirrors my response to intolerance. I too stood and waved my finger in a act of defiance as did my commander in his jurisprudence to my participation in the highly prosecutable weekend activities.
The military can help to end the conflict the politicians created by becoming participants in humanity. We can learn from the worlds inclusion of GLBT people into their military. Contrary to the US ARMY’S official response the consequence of allowing LGBT people to disclose their affinity will not be fatal to our soldiers and would not adversely affect a units readiness. Quite the opposite. My friends knew me much better than I did, but if anything my candor made our bonds of trust unbreakable. Dear Elgin, the man who patiently dragged me, a unwilling student into understanding friendship, Rufus my running partner, James my pudding head best bud and everyone. Thank you.