Fox News pans military equality

Jason Burns

I recently read an article by Shannon Bream that was posted on the Fox News website. I know that reading such a site is bound to give a progressive heartburn, but about once a week I do it anyhow. The article was about the recent decision of outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to extend certain benefits to same-sex military couples. While I applaud the secretary for his commitment to equality for those who choose to serve in our volunteer military, Bream should be embarrassed by her article.

The article uses pejorative language, which in no way serves to educate the broader community. Instead, it furthers dangerous stereotypes about the LGBT community and repeatedly cites as the “topic expert” Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council, identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. For those of you who are not familiar with Sprigg, he believes in deporting LGBT people and wants reinstatement of laws punishing homosexual behavior.

In Bream’s article, Sprigg is quoted saying, “I think this (extending some military benefits to same-sex couples) does qualify as discrimination against opposite sex couples who are essentially in the same position, unmarried but living together.” Sprigg’s comment is misguided and blatantly ignorant, as straight unmarried couples who are living together have the option of getting married. Meanwhile committed same-sex couples, at the federal level and in many states, do not. What Panetta wants is to extend equal benefits to all who volunteer to risk their lives for the nation’s protection, regardless of who they love.

Sprigg goes on to assert, “This administration is using the military for social engineering. I think it’s significant that they’re actually going beyond even what they said they’d do at the time that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ was repealed.” He seems to believe that progress should be restricted to just the repeal of written discrimination in the Uniform Code of Justice.

However, even after repeal, we still have a long way to go. Transgender people still are prohibited from military service. That situation must be corrected – and I’m confident that will happen in time. No person should be disqualified from serving their nation because of their gender identity or expression.

In her article, Bream also cites a Department of Defense report from 2010, before the repeal of DADT, that said offering benefits to same-sex military couples would be in “stark contrast to the military’s ethic of fair and equal treatment.” If I could ask one question of Bream it would be: Where was this ethic of fair and equal treatment for the nearly 14,000 individuals discharged under DADT?

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the federal Defense of Marriage Act on March 27, and a favorable ruling later this year could nullify this debate.

Meanwhile, I’m sick and tired of Faux News skewing the facts, fostering fear and encouraging people to stand against the core American value of equality.