Robert Gates: Opponents Of Gays In The Military Won’t Be Allowed To Opt-Out
Outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had a blunt message for Marines in Afghanistan, a service member who may be opposed to gays serving openly in the military won’t be allowed to opt-out of their military service:
FORWARD OPERATING BASE DWYER, Afghanistan (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates bluntly told Marines on Sunday that they won’t be able to opt out of their enlistment just because they disagree with a government decision to end a ban on gays serving openly in the military.
Gates, who is on a tour of Afghanistan to bid farewell to the troops before stepping down at the end of the month, was quizzed by a Marine sergeant about the controversial policy during a question and answer session at a base in southwestern Helmand Province.
“Sir, we joined the Marine Corps because the Marine Corps has a set of standards and values that is better than that of the civilian sector. And we have gone and changed those values and repealed the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy,” the sergeant told Gates during the question and answer session.
“We have not given the Marines a chance to decide whether they wish to continue serving under that. Is there going to be an option for those Marines that no longer wish to serve due to the fact their moral values have not changed?” he asked.
“No,” Gates responded. “You’ll have to complete your … enlistment just like everybody else.”
“The reality is that you don’t all agree with each other on your politics, you don’t agree with each other on your religion, you don’t agree with each other on a lot of things,” he added. “But you still serve together. And you work together. And you look out for each other. And that’s all that matters.”
Gates is, of course, absolutely correct here. With the exception of plainly illegal orders, a soldier does not get a choice of which orders they are going to follow and which ones they aren’t. And, they don’t get to leave the military earlier just because their commanders have made a decision they might disagree with. When their current enlistment is up, they can choose not to re-enlist, that’s their choice. However, I can’t help but think that the military won’t be harmed all that much by losing service members who can’t find it in themselves to treat their follow soldiers equally.