Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Don't Ask, Don't Tell's Knoxville connection

Sociologist of military servicemembers' attitudes Charles Moskos has died. Well known for his advice that contributed to the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military (if they remain closeted!), Moskos's brother is Harry Moskos, retired editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Moskos himself conceded that Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a highly flawed policy, though perhaps the best available option at the time of passage. However, he continued to defend the policy, arguing that gays and lesbians serving openly would "hurt the morale of the military rank-and-file and make many recruits uncomfortable." I'd say at this point, several other items are higher on the discomfort scale for our troops.

What always struck me about such arguments is that they are supposed to be irrelevant in a military context of command and control. Discipline means following the chain of command. As Moskos himself said in rejoinder to those who were urging the Pentagon to loosen up its restrictions:

"Any change in the status of homosexuals in the military requires congressional action," he wrote in a letter to the editor of The New York Times in 2005. "Your editorial implies that the military should disobey the law. Who is hiding from reality?"

Well said, Professor Moskos. It is up to Congress. And I hope they will remove the restriction on open service altogether. Otherwise, we will continue either to lose talened young men and women who want to serve our country like this former military translator or we will put them in the untenable situation of lying to everyone around them about who they are.

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