14 June 2010


The expected repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy toward sexual orientation is having strange repercussions. The Washington Post's Greg Jaffe reports that gays in the military are experiencing a strange state of limbo. While many officers, NCOs and enlisted personnel are already adjusting their behavior in a more tolerant direction, others are struggling with their homophobia. Even the military chaplain corps, whose ostensible mission is to tend to the spiritual needs of all under their care, regardless of race, gender or rank, is having a hard time making the adjustment. It seems that since the law was passed seventeen years ago, chaplains have become more conservative and evangelical.

All of which would be hilarious if it weren't so tragic. Gay men and women make up roughly ten percent of any portion of the population, including the military. Being gay is not a contageous disease, nor does it hinder anyone from performing their assigned mission well. A good soldier is a good soldier, and ought to be respected as such. All the paranoid excuses for barring gays from the military are blatant discrimination. One could even make a case for the treatment of gays, by individuals and by the legal system, as being a hate crime.

Think about it. Among straight men and women in today's increasingly gender-blind military, randy behavior and sexual harrassment are the exception, not the rule. Yet straight people, particularly straight men, seem terrified of interacting with gays, as though gays think of nothing but sex. This stereotype dehumanizes gays, robbing them of all the dimensions of their humanity. To carry institutional paranoia to the point of actually considering separate quarters for gays and straights is just plain absurd. Bottom line, sexual preference is NOBODY'S BUSINESS. A soldier is a soldier.

I've known many gays and lesbians over the years. Just as with straight people, some are solid friends whom I treasure, others are knuckleheads whom I have no use for. That is independent of their being gay. The same holds true in families, in the workplace, and yes, in the military. All you homophobes out there, get over yourselves. Your fear and hatred are your issues, no one else's. Get some therapy, get a grip, and learn a little humility. Gay service men and women are risking their lives for you. Show some respect.

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