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Opening Arguments

Uniform code of military madness

Often when a gay rights issue comes up, critics will say gays are asking for special rights but gays will insist they want only rights equal to everyone else's. The evidence is usually mixed, so we have to decide for ourselves. If gays are guaranteed the right not to be discriminated against in unemployment, is that the same right everyone has to be judged only on their qualifications? Or is that a special right not guaranteed to, say, white heterosexual men?

But here, I think, is a clear case of special rights:

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (AP) — The Defense Department on Thursday announced it is allowing service members to march in uniform in a gay pride parade for the first time in U.S. history.

In a memorandum sent to all its branches, the department said it was making the allowance for San Diego's gay pride parade on Saturday even though its policy generally bars troops from marching in uniform in parades.

[. . .]

The Pentagon said the allowance is only for this year's parade in San Diego and does not extend beyond that.

". . . does not extend beyond that." I think that's called a bald-faced lie. Having granted permission for a gay pride parade, how can the Pentagon now refused participation in any other parade? We can now expect a general erosion of the rules aimed at protecting the military's image and strictly limiting our soldiders' participation in partisan matters. Wear my uniform to an anti-war rally, Sarge? Sure, no problem.

Look carefully through the linked stories, and as many others as you can find, and see how hard it is to find anybody reporting on why the (now-defunct) ban on uniforms in parades might be beneficial. But it's not exactly tough to figure out. Just consider the word "uniform" -- you know, meaning "the same." The military achieve its goal of creating an effective fighting unit by putting group identity over individual prerogatives. People who go into the military thinking they should be able to push  push their individual crusades -- whether it's gay pride or Christian fundamentalism or anything else -- simply do not have the military mindset necessary for the success of the mission of our armed forces.

That the Pentagon would actually encourage such -- well, I guess insubordination might be the right word -- is beyond astonishing.