Homosexuals in the Military
There is a great deal of controversy over gay men and women serving in the military. Clinton’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in 1993 may keep the problem out of public view, but it doesn’t solve the problem for the men and women in the military or the people who hold strong opinions. In 2002, reports The Atlantic Monthly, the U.S. armed forces “discharged an average of three lesbian, gay, or bisexual service members every day [emphasis mine]” (“Still Asking, Still Telling”). Thus the policy is not working to protect either the gay soldier or the military establishment. Gay military personnel should not be treated differently than any other personnel, male or female. This issue cannot be swept under a political rug and must be discussed openly and honestly in the military and must become an integral part of the training every soldier gets.
The recent war in Iraq gave gay British soldiers and American soldiers the opportunity to work side-by-side. The British lifted their ban on homosexuals in the military in 2000 so there were acknowledged gay soldiers in Iraq. So far, there have been no reports that this arrangement interfered with military operations. It has been feared by those who want to keep homosexuals out of the military that it undermines the image of the military. They also argue that it creates volatile situations in the close quarters of the military men and women because sexuality will become overt. Many military personnel, like the society from which they come, are prejudiced against gays, or believe them to be immoral or bestial. The prejudice itself, many argue, will create disharmony in the ranks because the military gets its strength from the united forces of all its personnel. Another prevailing prejudice is that homosexuals prey on other people and try to seduce them; this is a baseless fear grounded on misinformation and fears about the unknown. Every argument against gays in the military appears to be sourced in prejudice and claims of morality rather than any documented information.
Gay armed services personnel should not be treated differently in the military. Thus, military spouses, whether gay or heterosexual, should receive the same benefits if the law sanctions the marriages. For those who fear that the stereotypical ‘unmanly’ gay soldier will undermine the image of the armed forces, then by looking at photos of soldiers these objectors should be able to pick out the male and female homosexuals. But this is simply not possible. A weak and effeminate man, for example, may not be able to pass the military physical tests and would be eliminated. The same, however, could be true for a burly, all-American football player, who for health reasons may not be able to pass.