The WashPo had an article that focused on one particular Air Force pilot, Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, who is awaiting a policy change regarding gays in the military. The airman -- who has nine Air Medals, including one for heroism under fire during an enemy ambush near Baghdad in 2003 --was outed by a civilian.
He faces dismissal which means he will lose nearly $50,000 a year in retirement pay as well as medical benefits. Fehrenbach is more disappointed that he will be unable to serve the country in a time of war. "It doesn't make sense to throw out someone who's ready, willing and able," he said.
He was hopeful with Obama's election that the policy would change, but the President has backed down from campaign promises. He's probably shrinking away for political reasons. He doesn't want more controversy with everything else going on right now.
The President has mentioned conducting a study. Which according to this article, has already been done -- more than once -- with the conclusion that changing the policy will not adversely affect morale.
Professor Diane Mazur, a former Air Force officer who teaches at the University of Florida and who has published widely on gays in the military, added that “every research study published over the last fifteen years has concluded that military readiness is not harmed — and may be strengthened — when all qualified Americans can serve and no one has to live in secrecy.”
The article also points out that "conducting a study" is usually code for "delaying and killing."
I believe BO should not make an executive order, but he should urge Congress to take action soon. Because this is a change that should not be a mandate from any President. It should come from Congress --those who represent the citizens of this nation -- which will give it more legitimacy.
Yes, I know there are still strong opponents. Yes, I recognize that the military brass should generally be the ones who make policy decisions. AND it's about time that everyone acknowledges that a person's sexual orientation has nothing to do with their ability to serve.
The argument is that gays in the military are a disruption. In fact, the airman was charged with "damaging good order and discipline." How is that so, when he served in an exemplary manner for 18 years? It seems the supposed disruption only happened when his orientation was revealed by an outsider.
Nothing changed except the presumed reaction of those around him. Seems to me -- if any problem even exists --it's their problem -- they are the source of the disruption, not Fehrenbach.
If the compromise needs to be that it's taken on a case by case basis -- I think that's fair enough. But the burden of proof should be on the military to prove that the person's behavior or actions was the problem -- not the biases of those who serve with them. Anyone who has a problem can be reassigned.
There's no compelling reason to dismiss good men and women who just want to preserve our freedoms. It's time for Congress to act and change this archaic policy.