Alexander Raggio says he was 16 when he learned one of his relatives was gay — and watching that person's struggle gave him a grim introduction to discrimination against gays.
He carried those feelings into West Point, and in his senior thesis argued that the military's policy banning gays is not only wrong, but harmful to the Army.
The Pentagon may not agree, but the U.S. Military Academy gave him an award for the paper. "I love the Army and I think that this is hurting the Army," said Raggio, 24, in an interview this week from his new military post at Fort Riley, Kan. "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."
He said it was the first time he had spoken publicly about the paper or the award, which he received last year when he graduated from West Point in New York.
In his thesis Raggio wrote, "The Army often talks of doing the harder right rather than the easier wrong, and now it is time to put the policy where the propaganda is." "Allowing the open service of gays in the military is the right thing to do, no matter how difficult a transition it may be." Raggio said, "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," said Raggio, who describes himself as "about the straightest guy you can imagine."
This guy has to be pretty brave to tackle this issue while still in the military. Now a second Lieutenant and career military officer, he tells the AP he looks forward to going to Iraq. Let's hope his congressman is listening to him. That would be Rep. Mike Pence (R), who loves to wrap himself in the American flag and have his photo taken next to men in uniform. Pence also likes to score points with the Christian right by pushing anti-gay policies whenever possible. He could learn something by talking to Raggio.