A Military Job Is Not Economic Justice: QEJ Statement on DADT
In just a few moments President Obama is scheduled to sign the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy, which in theory, will allow for gay and lesbian members of the military to serve without being in the closet.
Queers for Economic Justice staff and constituents have all met people in the LGBT movement who have said to us that the DADT repeal is an economic justice victory, since many poor and working-class LGBT people join the military to have access to better jobs, and because the military is the nation’s largest employer, QEJ should be joining the in the victory dance.
But QEJ believes military service is not economic justice, and it is immoral that the military is the nation’s de facto jobs program for poor and working-class people. And since QEJ organizes LGBTQ homeless people in New York City, we wanted to remind the LGBT community and progressive anti-war allies that militarism and war profiteering do not serve the interests of LGBT people. Here’s how:
- The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans reports that about one-third of all homeless people in the US are veterans, but about 1.5 million more veterans are at risk of homelessness “due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing.” They also report that 56% of homeless veterans are Black or Latino.
- Some studies also show that one in four veterans becomes disabled as a result of physical violence or emotional trauma of war. There are currently 30,000 disabled veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Rape and sexual violence are very common occurrences for women in the military, and the ACLU is currently suing the Pentagon to get the real numbers on reported incidences.
- Half of the US budget in 2009 was made up of military spending, including current expenditures, veterans benefits and the portion of the national debt caused by military costs, according to the War Resisters’ League. That is more than the US spent on Health & Human Services, Social Security Administration, Housing and Urban Development and the Department Education combined. Wouldn’t more social safety net spending help the millions of queers who can barely make ends meet?
In short, military service is not economic justice.
Furthermore, QEJ understands that there are LGBTQ people in other parts of the world, particularly Iraq and Afghanistan, who have been killed, traumatized, or made disabled directly as a result of the recent US-led wars, or who have become vulnerable targets by fundamentalist backlashes to US imperialism. We stand in solidarity with other LGBTQ people around the globe, and do not condone violence against them or their home countries so that “our gays” have the “right” to serve openly in the military.
QEJ supports real economic justice. You should support QEJ this season.
It’s hard to ask for a donation on such a tough issue, but showing your support for real economic justice is one way to reject the framing of militarism as economic opportunity. Make a donation to QEJ today.
From all of us,
Queers for Economic Justice