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WW Pride statement

Repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’– and the military

Published Jun 23, 2010 9:22 PM

Activists in the lesbian, gay, bi and transgender communities are continuing to push for a repeal of the reactionary “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, which dictates the discharge of LGBT members of the U.S. military if they reveal their sexuality or if it is otherwise exposed.

Both the Senate Armed Services Committee and the full House of Representatives have now voted to repeal the law. However, implementation of the repeal is being delayed until the Pentagon completes a report, due Dec. 1, assessing the effects of the repeal on the military.

Despite laws like DADT, LGBT people have always been in the U.S. armed forces. Increasingly they enlist in the military — knowing full well that they will experience discrimination — because they can’t find better job prospects or opportunities.

Once inside, they attempt to withstand a culture in which the military brass use the vilest racist, homophobic and anti-woman language to promote violence against the “other” — fellow working-class sisters and brothers in other countries, and sometimes at home.

“The purpose of military training is to churn out non-thinking killing machines,” Stephen Funk, a gay Filipino Marine and the first conscientious objector imprisoned for refusing to fight in Iraq, described in a statement. “One must go through a transformation in order to accommodate the unnatural way of life that the military teaches.” (www.resistersbook.org)

That same process is used to divide members of the military itself — manifested in attacks, including sexual assault, against women and LGBT service members.

In a 1993 Workers World pamphlet, Rebeca Toledo explained: “As does any other employer, the Pentagon tries to keep the workers divided. Artificial barriers keep Black and white troops apart, men and women divided, and gays and straights at odds. When these barriers break down, the potential arises for rank-and-file soldiers to recognize the brass as their common enemy, unite against them and refuse to take their orders. ... Thus, in reality rank-and-file solidarity in the military can pose the ultimate threat to capitalism.” (“Armed & dangerous: Why the Pentagon declared war on lesbians and gays.”)

Workers World Party supports the right of LGBT people to serve in the military free of harassment, intimidation and discrimination. This becomes especially important in this harsh economic climate, when an economic draft is forcing more LGBT workers, like all workers, to enlist.

In addition, we call for the complete dismantling of the U.S. military — an instrument of U.S. imperialism that is used to repress, oppress and murder people around the world, all in the name of unbridled profit. We salute those members of the military who resist.

Further, we assert the right of LGBT people to real jobs with real wages — including full health care benefits for themselves, their partners and their families. It is important to note that the repeal of DADT was tacked on to the Defense Department’s annual, massive spending bill, which allocates the continued theft of money from U.S. working people to feed the war machine. That money could be used to provide job opportunities to LGBT and all people, so that they wouldn’t have to enlist in the military in the first place.