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Charles Karel Bouley Headshot

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Bother With Fringe Benefits

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According to estimates from the Census Bureau, somewhere between 2.8 and 3.5 percent of the active military and reserves are members of the GLBT community, or out of 1.5 million active duty, about 75,000-80,000.

Three percent. Now, according to the Gallup polling organization there is no real way to quantify how many people in America are GLBT. I am, and as I always say, 308 million people, 308 million sexualities. However, for classification purposes, let's go with 10%. Conservatives want that figure to be two-to-three percent, GLBT organizations say as high as 20%, so why not settle on 10%? For argument, I shall.

So, Congress, our president, the military, the media, the world will focus on a right that effects less than three percent of 10 percent of the population of the country. There is no evidence that if and when the ban is repealed that any more GLBT members will join. I go out often and socialize, and I just don't run upon groups of gays sitting about wanting to join the military, particularly at a time of two wars. Oh, there are some, about three percent, but not many.

So all this hoopla to effect under one million Americans at this time. Really? This is the battle?

Repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell is not a gay issue at all, it's a governmental discrimination issue, one that other governments dealt with long ago by letting GLBT members serve openly. But make no mistake, it is a fringe benefit. And it's ironic that the first real push the administration gets behind for the GLBT community is so members of it can go and serve their country, possibly die or be put in harm's way. Let me get this straight, you need cannon fodder, you need people to help you out of this bind, people you would normally turn your backs on, disgrace, throw out, so now because you realize as an institution that you actually need these people you'll level the playing field? Does that mean that the GLBT community is NOT a needed part of the American community and until it is shall have no rights in non-military settings, including basic marriage equality?

As a 47-year-old Californian and American who happens to be gay, this does little to change my world, or those around me. In fact, even the marriage equality issue doesn't really change much for most. Again, there aren't mass groups of gays just sitting around wanting to get married. Out of the 30 or so million, like their non-gay counterparts, again, according to the Census Bureau, 43% of all Americans over 15 are single or choose not to marry. That would mean if you simply extrapolate down, that 18 million members of the GLBT community may want to marry, 12 million not so much. But at least that right would affect almost 60% of those in the community, not less than three.

And yet, on that issue, the administration has remained silent. As the rulings come in, silence. As the U.S. Supreme Court trounces on the First Amendment by disallowing cameras and freedom of the press and speech in a key trial, silence. Offend campaign finance, get chastised at the State of the Union. Offend gays on a regular basis, silence. And all the hoopla? Barack Obama, as Commander in Chief, could sign an Executive Order tomorrow to do away with the policy. It's how the military was integrated, way back when, Executive Order. He could have pulled out a napkin at the State of the Union and signed it and said, there, that's out of the way, repealed. But no, the gays that want to serve have to be debated and approved by the good members of Congress, the Senate, high ranking military officials, because matters of equality are always best left up to various committees and tribunals.

So thank you for this positive distraction. It's nice the administration is not so much living up to a promise, but simply rectifying a wrong that the rest of the world only scratches its head in wonder that we even approved in the first place. But it's a fringe benefit, affecting a very, very small amount of people in the GLBT community. Marriage equality, freedom from religious oppression, equal pay, job security, economic stability, these are all issues that the GLBT community deal with in greater numbers on a daily basis.

Wake me when you get around to those.

Tune to Karel each and every day 3pm to 6pm on terrestrial radio in various markets and on the web at www.radiokrl.com.