One of the issues we broached when we hosted Justin Elzie for our Live Chat was the Military Equal Opportunity (MEO) issue.
Justin Elzie: We are not going to get sexual orientation included into the MEO right away. But it has got to be something at the top of SLDN, SU’s Outserves and other organizations lists.
Timothy Beauchamp: For those not familiar, “MEO” stands for Military Equal Opportunity.
Justin Elzie: It is not a special right as Admiral Mullens alluded to and that perception has to be knocked down. Sadly with the exception of SWAN and a few other people not many people want to upset the apple cart right now and talk about it. But without it a homophobic or Christian fundamentalist commander can discriminate and call it performance problems and a person would have no recourse.
FRA is a congressionally chartered, non-profit organization and the leading voice of enlisted Sea Service personnel on Capitol Hill and has more:
Johnson and Ham felt that gays would be accepted more readily in the military community if there were no sense they had been “elevated to a special status as a ‘protected class’and will receive special treatment.”
Sexual orientation, they said, shouldn’t be a factor in recruiting, promotion or any personnel decision-making. Advancement or selection boards won’t be told to meet gay quotas, for example. Complaints “of discrimination, harassment or abuse based on sexual orientation can be dealt with through existing mechanisms,”primarily the chain of command.”
The aim, said Eugene Fidell, who teaches military law at Yale University Law School, is to treat sexual orientation no differently than if a member were, say, left-handed.
Not including gays and lesbians as a protected class, and having to rely on some with ingrained and institutionalized anti-gay religious bigotry to treat our gay and lesbian veterans fairly is going to be fraught with problems. This is one of the issues we need to focus on as we move forward with the integration of openly gay and lesbian troops. The admission that being gay is just like being left handed is a welcomed one, but doesn’t resolve the issue of overturning years of institutionalized discrimination. Also, proceeding at a measured pace is okay, but our community via blogs and our activist organizations like Get Equal need to maintain pressure for us to be included in a more balanced system where our grievances might be aired and resolved without having to rely on any biased individuals in the chain-of-command.