The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is a landmark achievement for equal rights. The Obama administration has struck a blow against bigotry while successfully allowing for a grace period between July and September for the military to properly adjust to the controversial change.
There are critics, however. There remain people who believe, like former Navy spokesman Craig Quigley, that homosexuality in the armed forces should not be shared.
“Homosexuals are notoriously promiscuous,” Quigley said in 1993, adding that soldiers would feel “uncomfortable” around homosexuals.
There has been some evidence backing up Quigley’s statement. Zogby International released the results of a poll in 2006 on military personnel’s feelings about homosexuals serving in the military. Thirty-seven percent said gays and lesbians should not serve in the military while 26 percent said they should – the remaining 37 percent were unsure.
On the other hand, “Three-quarters of those surveyed stated that they felt comfortable around gays and lesbians,” and 78 percent said “they would join the military regardless of their open inclusion,” according to the published results.
A Defense Department report in November 2010 saw 70 percent of military personnel report that allowing homosexuals to openly serve would be positive, mixed or have no consequence whatsoever.
Let me try and dissuade some of the fears about homosexuals in the military – starting with the concept of promiscuous homosexuals causing problems.
I do know several promiscuous gay men and lesbian women – I’m from San Francisco, how could I not? However, I know even more promiscuous heterosexual men and women. The thing that both groups have in common is that none of them are interested in getting it on 24/7, especially if in a combat zone. People, regardless of sexual orientation, are not animals and not subject to the whims of every basic instinct.
Additionally, just because homosexuals are now allowed to serve, does not mean we are going to see an increase in shower rape within the military. The repeal of DADT does not also repeal the illegality of rape among service members.
Speaking out on the promiscuity of homosexuals is stereotyping, and I will refer you to most basic sociology and psychology classes on why stereotypes should not justify behavior.
Now I would like to address Quigley’s concern about soldiers feeling uncomfortable.
Imagine you are miles away from home in a foreign land, in an active war zone, living in close proximity to people who were strangers when you first arrived together. You are forced to endure rigorous training just to get to this moment, taking orders all day long, and are now surrounded by people armed to the teeth with the latest in modern killing technology and fighting an enemy intent on killing you first.
If you are not uncomfortable already, you probably enjoy this stuff a little too much and should be immediately sent home for psychiatric care.
More seriously, I can understand why it would make people uncomfortable. To us heterosexuals, homosexuality appears bizarre and contrary to everything we were told growing up. Even I must admit, I think it is weird behavior.
But I also think voting Republican is a weird behavior, or rooting for the Los Angeles Lakers. I find those even more weird than homosexuality. That does not mean I condemn Republicans and Laker fans to hell for their behavior.
The bottom line is homosexuals have already been serving in the Armed Forces. There have been 13,650 discharges since 1994 due to DADT. Homosexuals have already been fighting and dying for America; the actual repeal of DADT does not change that fact.
If you doubt the patriotism of homosexuals, look no further than Dan Choi. Choi was a military translator who was discharged in 2009 for publically admitting he was gay. Choi has now pledged to reapply for active service.
Public opinion on gay rights is shifting and is shifting faster than I would have predicted a few years ago. There remains a long way to go, with 46 states prohibiting same-sex marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act still in effect, but hope is on the horizon.
Polls conducted during the past 10 years by the likes of The Pew Charitable Trust, The Gallup Organization and CBS have consistently shown greater support for gay rights among younger generations. The 18 to 25 crowd in particular, which a great many of you reading this fit into, has shown an increasing acceptance of homosexuals.
As the stigma put in place by older generations withers and dies, it is our generation that will become the backbone of this nation. And we, in return, will pass on a new tradition of tolerance to our children – and so on and so forth down the line.
Intolerance and bigotry will always exist. Clearly, America still suffers from tense race relations and women appear trapped beneath a glass ceiling. But the country has managed great leaps of progress since the days when women stayed in the kitchen and non-Caucasians were segmented to restricted living areas, or worse.
Homosexuals are starting to see acceptance within our society. They now have permission to die for their country – in a few more years, I expect they will receive permission to openly live within their country.