I wanted to extend a warm hug to the LGBT community because today this 26th of June 2015 marks the day when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. A historic blow against the hate and bigotry that has been spread throughout the United States has been dealt and it is glorious. I have some very dear friends who are part of this community, and honestly can’t wait to see if they will take the plunge into marriage sometime soon. Frankly I am surprised it took this long for the government to do this. It’s not like it took them hundreds of years to realize that all people deserve the same rights despite their differences (oh wait, it did). Now, if we can finally get to work on fixing every other issue in this nation perhaps we will finally get somewhere, but for now this is a big step forward.
I wanted to mention something that might not have been widespread news at this moment. It is that the military (or at least the Navy) this month has been designated as LGBT Pride Month in order to bolster camaraderie and equality. It was so fantastic to hear those news because I came in at a time when we were still following the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that was enacted during Bill Clinton’s presidency in order to allow people of different orientations to serve their country. This itself was one big step forward in the military because until that point, if you were to apply for a job; the recruiters had to ask your orientation (if you said yes to the question, you were automatically unable to serve). However, this changed when during 2010-2012 time-frame the military opted to repeal the policy in favor of one that allowed anyone to serve openly. This caused much rejoicing amongst many of my co-workers who I am proudly serving next to, this very day.
But, not all is well in paradise. You see the military has it’s own strict code of Justice called the U.C.M.J. (Uniform Code of Military Justice). In this code there is an article that strictly forbids sodomy and I’m going to share with you (seeing as a quick Google search will provide the answer):
(a) Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration , however slight, is sufficient to complete the offense.
(b) Any person found guilty of sodomy shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
Someone in a much higher pay-grade than me needs to fix this soon. It’s not a much spoken about issue and I believe that a lot of members of my community (the military) need to band together in order to modify this. It’s not that the military openly observes the article (unless it involves rape, but that is a separate issue all together). But, simply because having this article exist is denigrating as a whole to a community who now openly embraces the members of the LGBT community who serve alongside them. It’s simply a stain on an otherwise standard and effective system of justice.
My other issue with this approval of the same-sex marriage is that it doesn’t change the fact that men of homosexual orientation can’t donate blood at blood-drives. In fact if you are a male who engages in sexual acts with another man it will get you banned for life in terms of donating blood. This is a seriously outdated policy that traces back to the era when the AIDS crisis was at its height. Countries around the world have been coming to change this with the passing of time, but the United States seems to be stuck in the past. I understand that prior to 1985 we did not have the technology to test for HIV before giving blood transfusions, however the times have changed and we do now. Somehow this must have escaped the eyes/ears of the people in charge of the system because nothing has been done to remedy this mistake. Technology has advanced so much that we can now test for multiple diseases in a fraction of the time that it took back in 1985. Yet, I barely ever hear anyone making a fuss about this issue. It seems that as long as people are willing to lie in those questionnaires they will willingly (and selflessly) donate blood to save lives. But, I say nay! People must rise against this indignity towards the LGBT community and take another stand. This is not the time to celebrate. It is the time to take action, and correct every discrepancy that has been enacted against a group of people. If discrimination is such a crime then explain to me how this is not such an act!
The only reason I found about this detail, was because a year ago one of my closest friends/confidant posted on his Facebook wall that he was unable to donate blood. When I heard the news my first reaction was to give him a phone call immediately and find out what had happened (I was afraid he might have gotten sick from his trip to a foreign country). It was that same year that he told me of his orientation (though I had known that detail about him since before he even realized it). In his post he specified that the group he donated blood to was no longer interested in his “gay blood” which is frankly very alarming. Ever since then I have made it a deed of mine to raise awareness of this fact. But, I need more people to spread the word, and if you’re reading this blog; please ensure that the news is heard. This needs to reach congress, it simply can’t continue to be this way if we are to reach the total equality that all people deserve.
On a final note my command celebrated LGBT month with a breakfast this morning. It was completely free though donations were welcome (of course I gave them most of the cash I had on me). I was so overjoyed to partake in this meal (free food!), but mostly because it gave me a chance to say good-bye to my shipmates. I will be doing a Permanent Change of Station soon, and I don’t have many opportunities left to socialize with them (so every bit is welcome). This day was truly a historical event, which compares only to the equal rights movements of the past. Once again I say to the LGBT community a warm and hearty congratulations.