2011/09/23

Living in the past

Rick Santorum comes out strongly against gay and lesbian servicepeople being "out" and open about their sexual identities. His fundamental point is that military service has nothing to do with sexuality and that Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen should focus on their jobs and not bother with the distractions of wanting to get married or raise a family while in the service.
In the times that Santorum appears to be nostalgic for (No, Santorum never served in any branch of the military, so "nostalgia" is not really an accurate term), in the 2004 movie King Arthur, our heroes get drafted into the Roman Army for a term of 30 years. If they had sex lives at all during that time, it was expected to be with "ladies of easy virtue." If they sought to maintain a family on the side, well, they could probably have done so. Families in the old days didn't expect to receive any financial benefits from the Army. Families were expected to simply live off of what they grew or hunted and to simply do without a father and a husband (Female soldiers are, historically, an extremely recent innovation) for extended periods and well, if the soldier was lost in combat, the family would eventually learn about it from his buddies when the group got home.
Back during the late 90s, I believe it was a Marine officer who expressed the opinion that Marines simply shouldn't get married while on active duty. I can sort of, kind of see that for a four-year enlistee, but to expect a 20-year careerist to live that way is simply not taking into account the fact that families nowadays need to be supported by the family breadwinner. Families don't simply live off the land any more. American employees who worked on farms in 2010 were just a little over a million. Number of total nonfarm employees for the same period was up to nearly 138 million in 2008 and down to 129 million in 2010. Children need to be educated, they need to move on to college or graduate school if their families really want them to get ahead. Older parents get care these days, they don't simply die off when health problems come up.
Unfortunately for people like Santorum, these days, the American armed services need to involve themselves in family issues anyway. Dealing with gay and lesbian personnel is just one more issue that gets tossed onto a pile of many other issues. A look at the Armed Forces Crossroads website shows us that supporting families is hardly just a throw-away or side issue. It involves many, many people working full time on many different aspects of the non-military parts of servicemember's lives.
Update:  Gotta love this piece from Washington Monthly. The blogger points out: "...because nothing says 'support the troops' like booing a U.S. Army serviceman currently in Iraq."

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