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organization also reported that 10% of the people in the military would not reenlist if “don’t ask don’t tell” was repealed.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.