Homosexuals should be allowed to serve openly in all branches of the US Military Gays should be allowed to openly serve in all areas and levels of the U. S. military because logic and the tide of political correctness dictate that such should be the case. The American armed forces had, since the early revolutionary war, held sodomy (then generally defined as the conduct of performing anal or oral sexual act) as grounds for discharge. It was in 1950, when the Uniform form Code of Military Justice prohibiting homosexual and heterosexual anal and oral sex was passed, that the gay ban began.
Under President Ronald Reagan, the gay ban was more stringently enforced. In the 1990s, amidst vicious opposition to repeal the ban, President Bill Clinton enacted the compromise “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue, Don’t Harass” policy that provides for “Sexual orientation [not to] be a bar to service unless manifested by homosexual conduct” (qtd. in “Don’t Ask”). While it is true that the institution of the military is largely based on fraternal bonding that should not be cleaved by social factionalism, the call of the modern changing times have rendered the U.
S. military ready for the open—not un-manifested—gay presence. The American society is now ready for homosexuals to openly serve in the military. A December 2003 poll survey conducted by no less than the combined forces of CNN, USA Today and Gallup poll showed that 79 percent of the adult Americans hold the view that those “who are openly gay or homosexual” should be allowed to serve in the military. The 2003 year-end survey results represent an increase of 23 percent in favorable opinion of civilian Americans on the issue.
According to assistant director Geoffrey Bateman of the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military at the University of California, the shift in public opinion could be a reflection of then-obtaining concerns about the dismissal of homosexual Arabic language specialists during the so-called war on terror. He adds that after a ten-year implementation of the don’t ask, don’t tell policy, “the public understands that discrimination undermines military effectiveness. ” (Poll: Big).
The survey by FOX News involving a similar question conducted during the same year gave similar favorable results of 64 percent (New Poll). Even among enlisted service members, the attitude is shifting in favor of open homosexual service in the military. A survey conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s 2004 National Annenberg Election showed that exactly half of junior enlisted service members believe that homosexuals should be permitted to openly serve in the military. The poll results reflected a big leap from the attitude of military members twelve years ago.
Two similar surveys made in 1992 revealed only 16 percent enlisted men had the same view (New Poll). The arguments used by those who espouse and support the military’s ban are old and outdated and largely not believed even by military apologists themselves. In the Annerberg survey, a mere 16 per cent of the respondents who were against open gay and lesbian service thought that any such policy would actually be ‘bad for morale”, while only 12 percent believed it would be detrimental to military teamwork (New Poll).
In response to President Truman’s executive order that ended racial segregation in the military, then Chief of Staff General Omar Bradley believed that: “The army is not out to make any social reforms. It will change the policy when the nation as a whole changes it” (Scott). I agree with this opinion, because the members of the military only reflect, to some degree, the attitude, norms and beliefs of the larger society. Applying to the gay issue, open acceptance of gay’s military enlistment surely cannot be effected with the simple act of legalization.
I agree with the opinion of an official 1940s U. S. army report to the Secretary of Defense that there exists the need for military members to “have the utmost confidence in his fellow soldiers [that there] can be no friction in their everyday living that might bring on failure in battle” (Scott). However, homosexual’s open service should no longer be an issue of “friction” because the American society is increasingly moving towards open acceptance of gay developments that even include gay marriages and open military service.
The fears of the deterioration of heterosexual military members in the event of open service of gays in all military branches are no longer supported by studies on civilian and enlisted service personnel’s attitude. No less than Service members Legal Defense Network (SLDN)’s Director of Law and Policy Sharra Greer have observed that in the present, “Heterosexual service members serve alongside lesbian and gay colleagues every day and they are increasingly comfortable doing so” (New Poll).
There is, in fact, a considerable presence of gay and lesbian Americans serving in the armed forces. Despite the ban on open gay service, the different opinion survey results reflect how both the American public and the enlisted personnel themselves either find the matter of sexual orientation irrelevant to military performance, or recognize the contributions of the enlisted gay members to the country’s military.
An estimate places the number of gay and lesbian Americans serving in the armed forces at 65,000 (New Poll). Since the gay ban began to be initiated in 1943, applicants had been pre-screened; for those who avoided or survived the pre-screening, a considerable number of homosexual military members have been discharged or forced to resign.
A prominent case is Tom Dooley, a Navy medical doctor acclaimed for humanitarian and anti-Communist efforts during the Vietnam War, who had to resign after the first official Navy study on Navy regulations and rules and sexual orientation (“Don’t ask”). There is really no rational basis to prevent the presence of gays in the military, other than sexual discrimination: as early as 1957, the government learned that homosexuals pose no greater security risk than straight enlisted members, as contained in the so-called Crittenden Report (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell).
While the “Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t harass” policy was meant as a compromise back on President Bill Clinton’s promise to reverse the gay ban in the 1990s, the time is now ripe to adjust the American military’s policy according to logical grounds, human rights and the obtaining liberal attitude of the public toward gay rights and contributions.