No matter what your opinion on the Iraq war, you’ve got to admit it’s a good thing we’re not fighting it with slingshots and pots of boiling tar. The Pentagon consumes a gluttonous amount of tax money to keep our troops armed with the most advanced and up-to-date weaponry (body armor aside).
Unfortunately the Pentagon is still in the dark ages when it comes to homosexuality. I know, that’s hardly a surprise given their desperate grip on the discriminatory “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. But it turns out they also think gays are sick in the head.
The Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, at the University of California at Santa Barbara, has discovered a document dating back to 1996 that says as much. According to the Associated Press, “The document outlines retirement or other discharge policies for service members with physical disabilities, and in a section on defects lists homosexuality alongside mental retardation and personality disorders.”
Fag, psycho, retard… Aren’t we just splitting hairs here? Is there really a difference?
Uh, yeah. According to Dr. Steven Samuels, a social psychologist and professor of leadership who has worked extensively with the military, “To classify homosexuality with mental retardation, impulse control, and substance abuse, shows at best an ignorance of basic psychology and at worst a purposeful intolerance and discriminatory practice that is incompatible with the high values of the military.”
Mental health experts have been pretty darn clear on this for decades. The American Psychiatric Association, which authors the DSM-IV-TR, the be-all and end-all volume on mental health classification, removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses over 30 years ago and affirmed that homosexuality “implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or general social and vocational capabilities.”
Unless you’re a soldier, of course, because homos just can’t cut it in the military. I mean, can you even imagine a war fought by a bunch of limp-wristed queens in feather boas and leather chaps? Because apparently those are the only kind of gays the Pentagon thinks exist. The loyal and brave men and women serving this country who happen to be gay and lesbian are, apparently, invisible (which, when you think about it, would really make them even better soldiers, wouldn’t it?).
According to CSSMM, a letter, signed by nine members of the House Armed Services Committee led by Representative Marty Meehan of Massachusetts, has been sent to the Defense Department asking them to update the classification.
Edwin Dorn, the former Under Secretary of Defense who signed the original Pentagon document, agreed it might be out of date, though it was re-certified as “current” in 2003. “It is certainly time to revisit the issue of whether homosexuality should be considered a mental disorder,” he said this week.
Um, no, it isn’t. This isn’t something that is open to debate and hasn’t been for over 30 years, though I’m sure anti-gay ideologues would love to roll the clock back on this one and get folks scared about “those crazy homos” all over again. Homosexuality isn’t a mental illness. It’s a sexual orientation.
An unfortunate stigma surrounds mental illness that prevents some folks from getting the care they need. Those who push the idea that gays are mentally ill are shamefully exploiting this stigma, as well as the stigma surrounding homosexuality, for ideological gain. And that, my friends, is what is truly sick.
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