In his first true State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama revealed the state of our union is ironically similar to its state one year ago – minus some economic speed bumps.
Obama rebuked Republicans and Democrats for obstructing change, accusing Democrats of “running for the hills” and Republicans of voting against everything because they can.
“Remember this – I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I could do it alone,” Obama said. “Democracy in a nation of 300 million people can be noisy and messy and complicated.”
Of course the president never suggested he could write legislation, vote as every congressman and sign it into law. What he did “suggest” was that he had the drive and the ability to lead those legislators and representatives to bipartisan solutions. His address to the nation left his holster full of the change Americans hope they can believe in.
One particular item on Obama’s agenda should trouble the American people. Former President Bill Clinton introduced the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in 1993 to follow through on promises to allow homosexual and bisexual people to serve in the military. The policy prohibits recruiters and officers from asking servicemen and women about their sexual orientation. It also prohibits servicemen and women from engaging in homosexual sex acts or announcing their sexual orientation publicly.
Many stigmas and stereotypes, including those against homosexual individuals, are harmful. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” allows homosexual and bisexual individuals to serve, while prohibiting their sexual orientation from being an issue.
A combat situation is not the appropriate place to attempt to weed out the overwhelming bias in the military against the LGBT community. The physical, emotional and mental strain of warfare is terrible enough, without the additional tension that would inevitably arise if sexual orientations were made public. The policy should not be seen as a slight to homosexuals, bisexuals, transexuals, heterosexuals or asexuals. It is a good-faith attempt to promote cohesion among teammates – a cohesion that could make the difference between life and death.
The eyes of the world are – and have been – on our military since the Iraq invasion in 2003. We have enough unresolved military issues. If the LGBT community is still struggling to find a comfortable place in peaceful society on the home front, how many more obstacles must servicemen and women overcome in a war zone? How much more dire would the consequences of dissension in the ranks be?