A soldier who describes himself as “about the straightest guy you can imagine” won an award for best senior thesis in the art, philosophy and literature major in the English department at West Point for a thesis criticizing the military’s policy against gays, according to the Associated Press.
While veterans have spoken out against the policy, this is the first time that the military has acknowledged objection to it with an award.
24-year-old Alexander Raggio received the award last year for the paper, which was inspired by a relative’s struggle with his sexuality. Raggio, who is currently serving in Fort Riley, Kansas, says he plans a 20-year career as a soldier, and believes that there is no reason gays should not be able to serve.
Said Raggio: “I love the Army and I think that this is hurting the Army. I see it as my obligation to say ‘I don’t agree with what you’re doing.’ I’m not being insubordinate _ I just think we’re making a mistake here…I have a problem where you have a military that says you can’t discriminate based on race; in all but very minimal ways you can’t discriminate based on gender, and you can’t discriminate based on religion or lack of religion. The only people not getting a fair shake were homosexuals.”
Just last week, Bleu Copas, a decorated sergeant and linguist, claims the Army discharged him after one of his compatriots outed him by email. HE claims that the military violated their own “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the process.
West Point’s praise of Raggio’s paper has some, like Aaron Belkin of the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, encouraged. “I think that this award symbolizes a shift in military culture. Raggio was brave enough to write about it in the first place, but the fact that West Point would give him an award for challenging the gay ban is a powerful indication of how far the military has come culturally.”
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