May. 25th, 2009

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I would like to take a moment this Memorial Day weekend to explain why I, a self-described leftist, radical queer, and pacifist, who is actively opposed to the current tangle o' wars the U.S. is embroiled in and to war in general, support the repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy toward LGBTQ folk in the U.S. military.

A lot of radical queers, in and out of my acquaintance, are really critical of mainstream gay rights organizations' decision to make the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell a movement priority. They argue that the "freedom" to serve as an openly LGBTQ person in the military is, in fact, the freedom to participate in a violent, unnecessary, racist, generally fucked up institution that serves only the interests of the wealthy corporation CEOs who stand to gain financially from war. Many argue, furthermore, that prioritizing the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell denotes a woeful lack of attention to intersectional politics in the mainstream LGBTQ (or, well, let's not kid ourselves-- the mainstream gay) rights movement. Basically, the argument is that putting so much stock in allowing lesbian and gay people to serve openly in the U.S. military amounts to prioritizing the "rights" of gay Americans at the expense of people in less wealthy countries, and that human rights gained by one group at the expense of others are not, in fact, rights at all.

And generally, I agree with these viewpoints. I am highly skeptical of mainstream, liberal and moderate gay rights activists who couch the debate over Don't Ask, Don't Tell in terms of simple patriotism, in terms of the right to "serve one's country openly." I think that anyone who can argue after the last eight years (hell, after the last fifty years) that taking part in the U.S. military constitues "freedom" or "service" is, at best, naive; and at worst, full of shit. I sure as hell agree that mainstream gay rights activists and organizations fail, for the most part, at intersectional politics, and that the framing of the policy (but, as I will explain later, not the attempt at repealing the policy itself) is reflective of that failure. But I'm going to argue, hopefully convincingly, that it is precisely in the name of intersectional politics that the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy needs to be repealed.

Reasons and analysis lurk behind this here cut. )


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