07 January 2011

Seasons of Change

It was inevitable that I was going to come and talk about the repeal of DADT, so here we go….

It would be the understatement of the year to say that Chris and I were so thrilled to watch this happen. To make it all about me for a second, I constantly find myself butting up against my habit of being the "anti-military Navy-wife." In a nutshell while I am proud of the work Chris does, and grateful for the lifestyle we live, I often have serious objection to how the military operates. (I will save the long-winded discussion of how I am not really pro-military, but feel it is OK for us to be a military family due to Chris' specific line of work for another day.) As the whole service becomes more progressive, I feel more and more confident that by choosing to stay in the Navy, we have done the right thing.

Anyway, while the obvious benefits of being able to serve, openly and with pride are great, I am really excited about what other changes, both for the military and society, this will cause. For example:

  • This will have to change the face of the same-sex marriage issue. While the DoD can require a marriage certificate in order to grant benefits to spouses and dependents, eventually someone will create the necessary fuss about that catch 22. It seems unfair that you can be cannon-fodder for democracy, but not marry/support your loved ones. This will get heated, fast, and that may be the impetus this country needs. This will put pressure on the conservative blowhards who want everyone to think they are patriots first and foremost. Either you fully support those who work to keep the country safe, or you don't. Which is it going to be?
  • There may be a major shift in the cultural mentality of military personnel. This field has long been the last bastion of conservative ideals where discrimination and bigotry were tolerated, even required. (The hilarity of Chris having to do his "discriminatory practices" survey never gets old. Um….yeah, he would (against his will) deny a woman a job in his command, until recently naval policy said he had too. It is painful sometimes, truly it is.) Now, goddess willing, all the people who have such a problem with women/homosexuals in the service will leave. It is a volunteer position and if you are that worked up about it, please leave. Do us all a favor. In reality, it will just become like any other workplace where hey, you don't love all your co-workers, but you are professional enough to just deal with it. Might be time service members put on their grown-up knickers and did the same.
  • The senators who voted against will go down forever, in history, as the people who chose to stand in the way of human rights. McCain has been doing the Navy a major disservice for years, and this is the perfect icing on the cake. People are losing patience with the DoD and this may be the snowflake that gets the avalanche of change going. Believe me, if you can change the military, you can change pretty much anything.

I am also curious to see how they are going to handle some current situations such as:

  • If they do offer benefits to same-sex partners without the benefit of an official marriage certificate (as they should given that the option of marriage doesn't exist) how will they regulate heterosexual life partners who choose not to marry? This is an area where one must tread carefully since you have to grant everyone equal rights, but it is also an area ripe for abuse of the system. The whole method by which you "verify" eligibility for benefits is going to have to change.
  • What will they do with all the people who spoke so heavily against the repeal? What do you do with people in leadership positions who have been so vocal about the idea that this new policy is a bad idea? (The name Amos springs to mind...) Can you have people who said it was BS upholding the new rules? Will they even do so? How do you monitor that? How do you get around the now inherent, and clearly stated, hypocrisy of these people?
  • Will people really leave and will lawsuits ensue? If you wish to leave the service because you don't feel you can't work under this new policy, then you do so at the loss of your contracted benefits and owing whatever financial penalty is assumed by leaving under said conditions. Can the military force people to work in what they may consider a "hostile workplace?" Can people get contracted compensation if they choose not to play by the rules? This job is unique in that you sign up knowing that you will work where they say you work, do the job they tell you to do and uphold whatever policies they put in place. You are a cog in a machine and you know it. So do you now get to say you don't want to so you can leave with no consequence? In normal industry, you can quit if you don't like the environment, but the inherent availability of choice to work at a place, knowing the policies ahead of time, skews the comparison. What a quagmire.
  • What happens to people who were discharged under DADT? Is that retroactively illegal or do you just have to re-sign up and start again? I assume the current lawsuits and inquests will go away, but how will the military "make-up" that time to those individuals?

It is going to be exciting times here in military land. I am waiting to see what policy gets released, I figure Gates and his team will get on this sooner rather than later, and I am really looking forward to how the military will have to grow and change. If we keep this up, we may not be the laughing stock of the civilized world for too much longer. (Well, it will be a hundred years and a million more laws until we are an actual first-world nation, but every step helps.)