I previously wrote about the attempt to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by holding the fiscal year 2011 Defense Authorization Act hostage in an attempt to force a repeal. I have always admonished others about complaining about things when one doesn’t have a better solution, and in that particular case I was guilty of doing what I always complain about. Since then, however, I have had an epiphany, and I must give credit where credit is due.
It came to me because I have been following the case of Paul Chambers (@pauljchambers) and the Twitter Joke Trial. Mr. Chambers posted the now infamous, at least on Twitter, phrase “Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week to get your shit together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”. In a show of solidarity after he recently lost his appeal, thousands of Twitter users retweeted the original message followed by the hash tag #IAmSpartacus. So what does this have to do with DADT?
As with Spartacus, Mr. Chambers, and (at least the movie version of) Rudy Ruettiger, amazing things can happen when everyone takes up a cause that may not even be their own. I repeatedly see studies quoted that say 80% of the American public are in favor of the repeal of DADT. Activists are trying to use statistics like this to cram a repeal down Congress’ throat. This top down approach is just not working. What we need is a bottom up approach.
I recently saw a statistic on the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network website that said “73 percent of military personnel are comfortable with lesbians and gays”. Anecdotally, in 15 years of active duty service I have never once heard anyone even talk about it. No one cares. What do we care about? Mainly we care about whether you are doing your job. Can you do your job if you are gay? The answer to that question is probably “yes” just as often as it would be if you were straight (or bisexual, or transgendered, or asexual, or whatever other categories there are that I may be missing). So here’s my idea.
With the assistance of some legally savvy people, we (the entire military, or at least all of those in favor of repeal of DADT) need to all “come out” at the same time. Why do we need legally savvy people? Because we’d need to “come out” in a way that would require “the powers that be” to pursue action under DADT but would not result in other charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice such as Article 94 (Mutiny or Sedition) or Article 107 (False Official Statements). Reading 10 USC Sec 654, it seems like the easiest way to do that might be in twos; to go into the commanding officer’s office in pairs and declare our intention to marry each other (although I guess that wouldn’t work for those already married).
OK, obviously this plan needs some work, but I think there is some merit in the basic idea. The ultimate goal here is twofold. First, everyone who is actually homosexual, bisexual, etc. can come out and the investigative process will be so clogged that nothing will actually get done about it. Second, Congress will realize that there is widespread support at the deckplate level and they will have no choice but to act (without jeopardizing the Defense Authorization).
So, who’s with me?