My Mind Made Public -

I held off as long as I could ...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gays in the Military

I recently read an article by a national Christian organization claiming that having open gay and lesbian people serve in the military would be a threat to the congruency of our armed forces. Three things came to my mind:

1. A few years back a study in TIME said that 60% of publications from 1940-1950 stated that gay people were:

a. A direct threat to the strength of the US military
b. A direct threat to the security and strength of the US government
c. A direct threat to the safety of the general American public

It saddens my heart to realize that, although not the majority, some of us in the Christian community still believe those claims of governmental, societal and personal destruction from a half-century ago.

2. What do people in the actual military think?

The same Christian organization also reported that 10% of the people in the military would not reenlist if “don’t ask don’t tell” was repealed. My general belief is that, like my friend Shane Claiborne says,

“America needs the Amish for homeland security and Jesus for President.”

Beyond my general thoughts on war, my wife knows some military “lifers” who are hard-nosed, small town, country-strong, non-Christian soldiers who have done a number of tours in the Middle East, and now train soldiers to do the same. She asked them on my behalf what they would think about a repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” and each of them said (to some variation of the wording):

“Everyone knows who the gay guys are because most of them don’t hide it. In a life vs. death battle, none of that matters anyway. No one really cares except the extremely homophobic people who keep their distance outside of active duty—and that seems to be a really small number.”

3. The broader issue I can’t get past is:

Why would we want to stop gays and lesbians, who would give their life for our country, from enlisting? If someone is willing to enlist and actively engage in combat around the world (something personally, I wouldn’t willfully do), why would I want ban them, or anyone else from doing so? That just doesn’t compute for me.

Agree? Disagree?

Much love.


Samm Hodges said...

You may have read an article from Tim Keller in '01 in which he addressed the end of "Christendom" with all that was wonderful and terrible about it. I guess that's where the "missional" catchphrase comes from.

It seems simple, from my standpoint, that barring gay men and women from the military does nothing for our national security and even less for the kingdom of God.

It's interesting how in certain cases, a "secular" society can show more Christ-like-ness than "Christendom" did.

Brad said...

Here's a funny thing that came out from a conversation I had with Chase Harper, a Wheaton College student who is an ardent "being gay is a sin" spokesperson: we both agreed that our perception of hell is war. So, I asked Chase, if being gay is a sin that sends one to hell, and war is hell, why aren't we mandating that gays serve in the military?

Anonymous said...

I never knew they were barred from the military until Clinton ran for president. It baffled me, but not others. I knew that there are many types of gays & I think that most of them want to mind their own business & are not militant. Like you, if anyone wants to give his life for his country, I respect him/her.
Maybe in the 40s, when it was more of a shame, an enemy could blackmail a gay American spy or something like that, but today it is almost a badge of homor to be gay. It is helpful to help those in countries that kill gays to see that Americans treat them with respect. I think certain gays can even be an asset in the military.
Just don't tell certain folks I think this way!! :)
While I don't compare gay rights with racial rights, I can see a gay version of the Tuskeegee Airmen doing great things for our country--maybe as an elite spy corps & maybe rescuing gays from evil regimes that would seek to kill them. D.T.

Jeff S. said...

This says it all:

Seriously, this policy needs to be put to rest so gays and lesbians can serve proudly and openely.

Anonymous said...

What has bothered me is, that in the military, heterosexuals are seemingly encouraged to be promiscuous, but gays have to hide.
That is so hypocritical!
I think there should be military discipline & sex should be discouraged. Of course, I'm not a man & they say men are wired differently. Hey, we women can get very horny, too, but it comes in waves, not all day long!! I am older than Andy's dad, so I know wherof I speak! :-)

Jon Trouten said...

Seems like people would want "militant" gays (whatever that means) in the military.

The USA is behind many other countries -- most of our allies -- when it comes to allowing gay people to serve openly in the military. Canada, the UK, Israel, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland. US soldiers and officers have been serving alongside soliders from many of these countries during the past decade with no major problems.

Additionally, we have seen the Dept of Defense and other intelligence-type federal agencies recruiting purged military soldiers and officers. So these same men and women who are a risk to our country in one area of national defense, but not other areas?

On a personal level, I like to think back to reports from a couple years back of disabled vets who struggled with the nasty conditions of various VA medical treatment and housing facilities. These men and women depended on the assistance of their spouses to advocate for them and facilitate their treatment and to overcome institutional obsticles. Disabled gay vets cannot rely on partners for such support.

They also can't seek support from partners, boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses during wartime or during time of service without risking their careers. Can you imagine if we barred all contact with spouses and significant others from all soldiers and officers? Nobody would stand for this. But our nation currently advocates this type of treatment for our gay soldiers and officers.

Whether or not gay soldiers or officers are security risks. DADT would seem to promote any security risks. Keeping a partner secret from everyone makes that soldier vulnerable to blackmail or retaliation. Allowing them the ability to not maintain such secrets doesn't.

Andrew Marin said...

Here's the thing that blesses me so much:

Some of you I know, and some of you I don't. But of the ones I know, just in these comments alone, are people coming from ALL ends of the spectrum regarding their life experiences around homosexuality and belief systems (some more conservative and some more progressive) around faith and sexuality - all of which are saying the same thing as Jeff so elequenlty put it.

And Jon - thank you for bringing that point to light, as I had never heard of that before regarding the US and other countries policies (and the United State's involvment!) regarding gays and lesbians.

Just goes to show, among other things, we tend to slap the hand that we ourselves are feeding others.

Anonymous said...

i'm a little over halfway through "Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America" and i would HIGHLY recommend it for anyone interested in the whole don't ask don't tell (DADT) policy. it's a great history and inside look at how the policy came's really frightening and unfortunate the policy is still in place nearly 20 years after it was enacted.

i hope DADT will be dismantled soon, but it won't be easy. i'm sure many on the Right will spend millions to keep gays in the military in the closet. but there's always hope i guess. the climate in 2009 is definitely different than in 1993. i guess we'll have to wait and see.

p.s. can't wait to get your book andrew!

josh h.

Anonymous said...

Many didn't like DADT, but it was soooo much better than just kicking out gays. Don't forget about that guy(& maybe more) that was murdered by some homophobe(s) in the military. So, at that time DADT was a better choice than the previous protocol. Now that it has been discussed & the public knows about the previous rule that gays couldn't even serve, it may be time to revoke DADT.
As I said before, I was surprised & baffled to find out there was even such a rule! We have come a long way! D.T.

Timothy Wright said...

Ask Shane if he wants the Amish policing his neighborhood in Philly. He is nice but naive.

A badge of honor being Gay? Wonder what you definition of honor is. Engaging in homosexual acts is sin, just like coveting my neighbors wife or their daughters is sin.

I agree that the military is ok or even tacit approves of heterosexual exploits, which is so wrong.


Andrew Marin said...

Tim - Shane is a good friend of mine, and I have had the privledge of spending a lot of time with him not only in his neighborhood in Philly but also around the country. From all of the time I have spent with him, I can honestly tell you that he is no doubt, one of the most genuine and loving people I have ever met! When he says he wants the Amish for homeland security, that is as real and genuine of a statement as you speaking your convictions in your comment. He is a nice guy, yes, and he is anything but naive! There have been many times that Shane's community has been broken in to, many times he has been held at gunpoint or knife point, and through it all he remains exactly the same with the exact same convictions!! Shane Claiborne is a legitimate believer; a legitimate person; and a legitmate man who walks about EXACTLY what he believers...100%.

And as for gays in the miliatry....the sin issue has absolutely NOTHING to do with gays and lesbians in the miliatary! If sin had something to do with military participation, do you think we'd even have a military?! If that was the case, I think Shane's vision for the Amish as homeland security might actually have to come true then.

Bethany said...

Andrew- May I share this post on my blog?

Andrew Marin said...

Hi Bethany....please feel free to share this post on your blog!


Anonymous said...

It's June 14 & I'm reading some old blogs. I noticed some I wrote here & that I used the phrase 'badge of honor' to be gay.
Later someone else questions that.
I do believe that the secular media & liberal establishment may think that way. Gay behavior is a different thing, but even if it is sin, we are not a country that bothers what consenting adults do alone. But what about all the heterosexual guys who live super wild lives in the military & it is accepted?? That still hasn't been adressed by libs & conservs alike! I still don't get it! As long as heteros are encouraged to be wild, why is there a restriction on just being gay in the military, even if they don't act it out?
We had the Tuskeegee Airmen. How about the Castro Corps, the Boystown Brigade, & the Village Valiants? How about our gov't standing against countries that kill GLBTs? It's basic human rights!
A Conservative Evangelical

Anonymous said...

A question for those in favor of Gays in the Military:

Are you in favor of unisex showers in college? What about having males and females in the military sharing rooms/cabins whatever? Presumably you would have no problem leaving your daughter at college sharing a room with a heterosexual male roomate? If you don't think it is right to force a girl to share a room/shower with a straight man, why is it fair to force a man to share a room with a gay man?

It is genuine question I have never heard an answer to.