Written by Katrina Plotz, Anti-War Committee member, for LGBT Pride 2010.
President Obama recently announced support for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The House of Representatives has already voted to repeal it, and the Senate is likely to take up the issue this summer. While we in the Anti-War Committee fully support an end to discrimination of all kinds and celebrate any victory in the struggle for gay rights, we do not support the U.S. military’s role in the world and would encourage anyone – queer or straight – not to enlist or continue a career in the military. U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan face danger and death every day. Orders to fight and kill people defending themselves against a foreign occupation leave many disillusioned and suffering. Studies estimate that 30% of veterans suffer some form of PTSD, hindering their ability to work, maintain relationships, and in some cases continue living. Suicides in the military are at an all-time high, and veterans kill themselves at a rate 4 times higher than the national average. Recruiters sell military service as a great career opportunity, but unemployment rates are twice as high among veterans and 1/3 of homeless people are veterans.
Lastly, sexism and homophobia are rampant in the military. Studies conducted by the Department of Defense reveal that 30% of military women are raped while serving, 71% are sexually assaulted, and 90% are sexually harassed. Homophobic insults and language are a fundamental part of basic training and military culture. The desire to serve others and be open about who you are is honorable, but the military isn’t the place to do it.