When I have been confronted with my opinion on the U.S. Military’s policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, I express extreme disgust that I live in a country where a person’s ability to serve in a branch of the military is jeopardized by their sexuality. The ability of the person is never the object in question, merely the fact that no person who identifies within the LGBT community could possibly serve in a branch of the military — unless they keep it quiet.
As a gay man who considers himself to be rather masculine, I find it offensive and somewhat comical that America would rather put a scrawny heterosexual on the front lines of war than a 6-foot, 200-pound homosexual.
It would behoove the military to uphold stronger entry standards on things that actually pertain to one’s ability to assist in a war, like physical strength, determination, courage and mental fortitude. The military’s issue with LGBT people seems incredibly vague. My best guess is they believe LGBT people to be inferior to heterosexual people and therefore wish to keep LGBT military personnel in the closet and refuse entry to all who are open.
Forcing LGBT people to hide their sexuality can lead to drastic psychological effects, such as depression, suicide and anxiety. The military has also stated that having open LGBT people serve in the military would “hurt the morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion,” according to the U.S. Military Code of Conduct, which is completely unfounded. Most of the soldiers would be a whole lot happier if sexuality was out in the open. I can only imagine that the soldiers can get suspicious and uncomfortable with the fact that anyone could be gay, but no one is allowed to be out. And let’s face it; statistically, there are homosexuals in the military.
In terms of good order and discipline — apart from the potential for bigoted personnel responding to open LGBT persons serving in the military with acts of violent hate — I cannot fathom how having out LGBT people in the military would impact the good order and discipline of the military. Unit cohesion is said to be the most important aspect of the military because personnel need to have complete trust in the individuals in their unit. One would think closeted LGBT people would not have the unit cohesion necessary to effectively add to their unit.
The aspect of the U.S. Military Code of Conduct that deals with homosexuality is completely outdated, and illegal for that matter. Since the military is a career for many who enlist, it is illegal to discriminate against LGBT people just because they identify in the LGBT community. Though there is no federal law against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, certain presidents have interpreted another law to protect LGBT workers on the federal level.
Though a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has passed both houses, no steps to implement it have been taken, and safety measures for open LGBT people have not been assured. Until these steps are taken, this policy is still adversely impacting our nation’s military. The U.S. military should in no way deny highly qualified, strong leaders who happen to identify in the LGBT community admittance into the military. They would most likely have more soldiers, happier soldiers and fewer angry American LGBT people.
Andrew Whitson is a senior music education major. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.