Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Commonality: P-3C/Update II and Gay Marriage

Isn't it interesting how this analogy can help understand a complex issue. Let me begin with the story of the P-3C Orion Update II version. I think it was while I was on the Destroyer Squadron staff when I recall seeing a message declaring how the newest version of the P-3C Orion would not be called the P-3D, but rather the P-3C/Update II. Having built a lot of plane models growing up, and spenind a lot of thime studying the military aircraft of the WWII era, I had come to understand that when a major modification of an aircraft was made, they changed the letter at the end of the designation. The B-17F became the B-17G when they hung a remotely controlled set of .50 cal guns in a chin turret. The P-47, when it got a bubble canopy, vs the old framed one, became the P-47D. The P-38 had lots of variants, some as fighters, some as light bombers, some as photo recon, others as Pathfinders. Each carried a different letter behind the "38." Fast forward to the mid-80s. The P-3 airframe, a military adaptation (quite succesful one at that, for it still patrols the oceans) of the Lockheed Electra passenger plane was getting a major internal makeover. All sorts of more automated gadgets were being stuffed in and now the decision had to be made as to how to dsesigate it. Between the lettering scehme noted in the previous paragragh, and what I learned, there is significant reason to point this out, for the people having to call on the aircraft will know what's up there supporting them, or, during mission planning, may have to be specific requests to make sure the operational function comes off as planned. Why didn't the "P-3D" come into the nomenclature?'s all about money. I learned long ago, the best way to figure out complex issues is to take a look at the money trail, and you may glean some interesting information. In this case, it wasn't the money for the airframe, or the ground support, but it was the issue of the printing and distrobution costs for the change pages for the plethora of publications in existance that referenced the "P-3C." You know, Admin Warfare, the undiscussed mission area, is important! The message that told us to use P-3C/Update II indicated it was cost prohibative to change all the TACMEMOs, NWPs, NTPs, etc, etc, etc, so henceforth and foreevermore, all we would be able to say if we had a "P-3C." Make sense? By now, I hope you didn't get lost in the story and are anxiously awaiting the connection to Gay Marriage. Here it is: It's about the money. Money, you ask? Yes. Here's the deal. Civil unions won't suffice. Like the many forests of printed pubs with "P-3C" that the Navy wasn't about to change, the veritable mountain of legal and regulatory documents out there in the world that say "marriage" in the context of legal rights on allowance of benefits are too many to consider trying to get to change them, one by one, in order to them to say "marriage and/or civil union" would cost lots. On top of that, unlike the control over this decison to change or not being in the hands of the Navy alone (or, in a worst case, the Department of Defense), these documents are under the purview of all sorts of private companies as well. You can't change them just by having the federal government deeming it so. Not only that, it would mean each occurance of resistance to granting rights similar to those granted to straight married people would have to be the approached legally by the person encoutering it, meaning more money out of the pockets of the gay person seeking compensation. The documents will range from applications for insurance, health care plans, employee handbooks and claims forms for all types of insurance. While someone may annonce an equivalency between "marriage" and "civil unions," there will be plenty of businesses that would drag their feet, or flat out say "it says 'marriage' here. sorry!" Therefore, the most effective path to gain access to the many things we grant two people who have promised each other, under a legal contract, to take care of the other, only a nationwide decree of the legality of marriage will suffice. That means, no matter how hard the uphill battle for the activists for this course of action seems, the bottom line is it will then instantly take down all barriers in every other place they may come in contact with resistance, for they hold up a piece of paper saying "Marriage License." The other beauty of this approach is that not every document would have to be known at the time. The acceptance of a "civil union" might make things better for many, but the lingering cases would continue to pop up for years to come, with the associated legal bills and time spent waiting for a clogged court system to hear the case. All this discussion is to help understand why the issue of gay marriage is being pushed so hard right now, and will continue to be. It's the path of least resistance. Thanks to Little Green Footballs for the Open Thread!

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