Just say no to Uncle Sam

By Charles Karel Bouley II

Originally published on Advocate.com October 12 2005 12:00 AM ET

It’s
official. The United States wants us dead. Us being gays and
lesbians. And that’s about it.

Those in charge
don’t think we’re fit to marry. Most
don’t think we should raise children or have
legal rights where that’s concerned. Hell, some
states would simply outlaw our existence all together.

But die, well,
that’s OK. We can be fodder for political campaigns
that divide the nation and, apparently, fodder to feed
the terrorists in Iraq. It appears the U.S. military
has forgotten its failed “don’t ask,
don’t tell” policy in the case of Iraq.
In fact, according to the Center for the Study of
Sexual Minorities in the Military, the armed forces have
forgotten their ban on gays and lesbians altogether where
Iraq is concerned. Instead, the Army is telling
commanders that even if soldiers come out loudly and
proudly, they should be shipped off to the war zone.

Great. Debate us,
humiliate us, ostracize us completely as far as the
military is concerned during peacetime. But when trouble
starts, oh, no, we’re good enough now. Suddenly
their worries of gay men molesting poor unsuspecting
marines in the showers goes out the window. Their fears of
butch lesbians forcing the petite, feminine ladies of the
armed forces in to long-term relationships with
U-Hauls, plaid, and cats are not as important as
battling the terrorists who have taken root in the chaos the
Bush administration has created in the Middle East.

What a disgrace,
for the armed services, and for gays and lesbians.

There are those
who say this is a good thing, that it will show those in
charge that we are fit to serve alongside our nongay
counterparts and that after Iraq things will change
based on our valiant service and lack of any
incidents, incidents those closed-minded bigots foretold in
their tales of woe and horror about why gays and
lesbians couldn’t serve openly in the first
place.

My experience
tells me otherwise. My experience tells me that bigots and
closed-minded individuals will let you sacrifice your life
for them but will not repay in kind. They will let you
uproot your world, complete their military tasks, and
then afterward immediately remove your status of
equality back to one of inferiority. Southerners let slaves
fight for them. And many expected them to return to
their servitude after the war.

The fact is, we
shouldn’t tolerate this. The fact is, we
shouldn’t serve at all. In fact, we
shouldn’t pay federal taxes, and we shouldn’t
pay state taxes in states that haven’t at least
tried to rectify the inequality under the law that
exists for gays and lesbians.

Before we decide
to serve our country, to fulfill our responsibility, our
country needs to meet its responsibility to us. Before we
offer up our lives, bodies, and souls to Uncle Sam, he
needs to stop treating us like bastard stepchildren at
a family reunion. Before we participate in George
Bush’s dirty little war, he needs to stop touring the
country touting a constitutional amendment to create a
second-class citizenry, particularly when he wants to
amend a document that the founding fathers created to
guarantee equality and protection for minority opinions.

The fact is, no
one should be in Iraq, but least of all gays and
lesbians. The democracy the United States is allegedly
fighting for—the new, free Iraq—is
actually a theocracy, based in Sharia law. Women barely
have any rights, let alone gays and lesbians. In Iran, right
next door, gays and lesbians get hanged or beheaded.
In Iraq many would do much of the same to us. So
we’re serving in a military that doesn’t
normally want us in it, one that makes us serve in
silence, and then are being sent to a country to fight
for a new government there that again would seek only
to oppress us should we live under it. Yeah, that makes a
lot of sense.

And it’s
time we stop sugarcoating it. Did Jefferson, Washington,
Adams, and the rest say that the only way to win the
battle for rights in America was as members of the
British parliament or as Redcoats? A revolution was
started over a tea tax; meanwhile, we are openly targeted
by members of government for discrimination, refused the
opportunity to serve as free, open human beings in our
country’s military, and we’re supposed
to continue buying in to it, being good little citizens,
hoping one day it will change?

Say it with me:
poppycock.

Yes, people will
go to jail, or the brig. But it’s time we start
standing for something, because it seems these days
gays and lesbians don’t stand for much. Our
organizations are too busy patting each other on the back,
or worse, patting the backs of those nongays who
don’t oppress us or who actually vote with us
for equality, to really do anything. It’s appalling
that the military says, “Hey, they’re OK to
die in the desert but not OK to live openly on base in
San Clemente or Fort Hood or anyplace else.” It
is not all right that when these gay troops return home,
their same-sex partners cannot even greet them in the
same place others can greet their spouses. No, we have
to wait for our loved ones to get to a general area;
we’re not allowed on board, on deck, or anyplace else
to openly welcome home our partners. It’s a
national disgrace and it must stop. And we must stop
it.

Just say no.
Literally, just say no. Do not enlist. The military needs
troops right now. They need us more than we need them. Do
not enlist. If you are in the service, get out any
legal way you can. And let it be known nationally that
we’re not IED fodder, we’re not roadside bomb
targets, and we’re not American shrapnel to be blown
about while our partners are denied any real benefits
under military policy. It’s time we let the
United States know we’re not going to lift one finger
to defend a country that refuses to let us do so
honestly, openly, with dignity.

We’re not
going to run off to their dirty little war and then, if we
don’t come back, have our partners shunned.

Gays in the
military think they’re doing some big patriotic duty.
On the contrary, by letting this institution, this
government, get away with this kind of behavior, we
are buying into a spirit that is so un-American, so
unpatriotic, that it sickens me. If the ban can be
disregarded or lifted for Iraq, it can be removed
permanently. But until that point, and until the point
where our partners can live on base, where our unions
are recognized on or off, although we’re expected to
pay for your weapons, to give tax dollars to pay the
salaries of those who fight, we won’t do the
fighting.

Until you treat
us as full Americans we won’t act like it. And if
you, those on the other side, don’t like that
philosophy, then change the rules. But we won’t
be blown up for you, we won’t be shot at, we
won’t be shipped to a foreign land that
wouldn’t even let us live openly if we were
civilians there and you do nothing, say nothing, to change
that. Not once in any policy meeting, to the best of
my knowledge, has gay rights been brought up in Iraq
or its new constitution. And in our country
they’re trying to bastardize ours to dehumanize us.

No, Uncle Sam.
You’re the evil uncle that would molest us and not
even give us the pleasure of a reach-around (to
paraphrase that military classic, Full Metal Jacket).
And that must stop. And we can stop it. Until our
military grants us the same rights, until our country gives
us equal footing, the only fatigues any
self-respecting gay or lesbian should wear are to a
theme party at a local club, and the only danger we
should put ourselves in for our nation is the danger each of
us feel each and every day in so many parts of the
nation where living openly is enough to get you
killed.

We have our own
wars to fight at home. We don’t need to fight yours
in foreign lands for people that would behead us
anyway. Keep your ban. We don’t want to play
your war games until we win major fights of our own.