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Should Gays Be Allowed to Serve in the Military?

Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.

Ask the White Guy Luke ViscontiQuestion:
I agree with guaranteeing the rights of all Americans. But, there is a serious problem with allowing gays to serve openly in the military. The easiest way to make my point is to respectfully ask a question. “How would you feel if your daughter was forced to work, eat, sleep, use communal bathrooms and take showers with a group of men who found her sexually attractive”? If you want to do a social experiment why not fully integrate male and female service members first and see how it works out?

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Answer:
The modesty solutions that allowed women to integrate themselves successfully throughout the overwhelming majority of the military work for single-gender interaction also.

Many homosexual men and women serve honorably today–and always have, throughout history.

What cannot be tolerated is predatory or oppressive behavior from either homosexual or heterosexual people. It is proper behavior, not gender or orientation, that is the standard we need to uphold.

I was recently saddened to receive an e-mail from a lesbian servicewoman who was extorted to have sex with a heterosexual serviceman who threatened to out her.

There is no doubt in my mind that there is just as much egregious behavior done by heterosexual people as homosexual people. Since there are far more heterosexual people, that’s where the majority of the problem is.

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31 Comments

  • Anonymous

    Now that we have rid ourselves of the poison in the Executive Office, we should see a change in our country in regards to LGB people serving their country, openly. President Obama has finally taken the bull by the horns and has told America, “Get over it and get a life”. This should have been done a long time ago.

  • Anonymous

    OF COURSE THEY SHOULD BE ALLOWED. And if anyone missed it THEY ARE ALREADY IN the military whether they have the permission to be in it or not. Your sexual preference doesn’t make you a better or worse person than the next. Just like having a religion or none at all. The better question should be why SHOULDN’T gay be allowed in the military?

  • Anonymous

    What a uniquely American question.As Americans, we are SO all about our rights, that we become myopic.The military does not exist so that people can serve, the military exists to kill people and wreck things. We train our soldiers well, so that they can most efficiently kill people and wreck things, so that when we ask them to do this, they do it most precisely and with the least a mount of collateral damage. And so that they win, while minimizing death on our side.We have a volunteer military, and as such, the military chooses those people who will best accomplish their goals, theoretically. When they evaluate a specific person for service they are evaluating whether the person has what they need, and whether there are aspects to the person that would make the entirety of the organization less effective.It’s not about your RIGHTS. It’s about whether the military can use you… if they can’t, or they don’t want to, then go home… join the Peace Corps, do something other than kill people and wreck things.When we make the military about the rights of the individuals seeking to be part of the military, we’re making what was a force for the protection of the country, into a means for people to exercise their rights and get assistance in their college funding.So if the military doesn’t want to deal with the issues surrounding mixing gay folks with straight folks, or men with women, or any other combination that they determine does not best accomplish their mission, then I’m all for it. If the military is OK with having gay folks, but makes a line that says basically that “don’t ask, don’t tell” makes integrating both straight and gay folks, then why are we, the folks that are being protected, going to argue?

  • Anonymous

    I agree with those who point out that the actual question is whether gays should be allowed to serve OPENLY in the U.S. Military. Today many do so honorably … but not openly. It is sad that, in the 21st century, we are still debating this question.It would seem that the real issue is not whether gays should serve openly or can serve honorably … the real issue is whether heterosexuals can handle serving with homosexuals. In essence, those with the problem (i.e. so-called straights) are the ones who have the power to decide how the problem is addressed. Much like Whites deciding that Blacks couldn’t serve in the military. Sure thay had a laundry list of reasons – all variations on a main theme that we Blacks were unfit/unable/unintelligent/un-whatever to serve. We weren’t the problem … they were. With gays in the military, it’s the heterosexual community with the hang up, not the gay community.Psychologists would call it projection … I’d call it homophobic bigotry.P.S. The original question …”How would you feel if your daughter was forced to work, eat, sleep, use communal bathrooms and take showers with a group of men who found her sexually attractive”? … is overly simplistic, onesided and sexist. How would you feel if your SON was forced to work, eat, sleep, use communal showers with a group of WOMEN who found HIM sexually attractive? The question implies a number of things: 1) gay women soldiers would be unable to behave appropriately around a straight woman soldier 2) any given group of gay women would find any straight woman sexually attractive under those circumstances; 3) a male in an inverse situation would behave differently.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with Dan, we should kick the sexual predators out of the military and have open sexuality. The predators are the ones who give the military a bad reputation and take psychological and physical freedom from other service people, not the LG.

  • Anonymous

    One of the comment writers suggested that gays in themilitary would work if the same techniques used to assimilate women inthe military were employed. We want and need women in our military, butin conditions of little or no privacy, men and women are separated tothe great extent possible. If the plan is to separate homosexuals fromthose who are not gay, how would this work, for example, on longsubmarine deployments that are not experienced by the sailors of othercountrie cited as role models for our military? Shouldn’t Congress beasking practical questions like this before acting to repeal the 1993law?

  • Anonymous

    I spent eight years on active duty and can say that modesty for allservice people, hetero or homosexual, is not that big a thing to handlefor the overwhelming majority of people who serve. There are certainlyareas like active combat zones where this isn’t possible, but thenagain, people in active combat zones have more urgent matters thansexual orientation to think about.

  • When I was a soldier the sexual orientation of the person fighting next to me was not important; keep in mind that there was a time when people actually thought that black people were not fit to serve in the military? The vast majority of sexual harrassment in the workplace is betweenheterosexuals but no matter who does it it is not right or legal. Barney Frank is an elected politician but someone else who is gay can not serve his or her country? Since just about every family has at least one gay person in the fold; where does it end? The real truth is that we do not know and that is how it should be because it is none our business.

  • The respectful question poised is a loaded one: a single woman, forced, group of men, sexually attracted…that is not objective language for discussion.Gays and Lesbians have been and still are mingled among the troops so there really isn’t a “social experiment” going on. Inappropriate behavior should be addressed, once DA/DT is lifted just as it should be now.

  • This is timely as the military claims it wants to add 20k new members. The point that the military is well integrated already is a good one. The exception is among the combat arms, where the integration not found. What is found is objectification of women, sexism, and homophobia. This occurs because there is no one to complain or correct the behavior. Forcing our service members to be more mature about their sexuality with respect to the opposite sex and other sexual orientations is a side benefit (not detriment) of allowing all americans, regardless of sexual orientation), to serve our nation. Service is a privilege of civilization and should not be withheld on the basis of bigotry, ignorance, or squeamishness.

  • Gays and lesbians have been serving in the military since militaries were first created. They have been working, eating, sleeping and using communal bathrooms like everyone else. Why assume there will be an issue? I spent seven years in the military and never thought about this topic, as it wasn’t any of my business.

  • FYI Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who are LGB ALREADY serve. The argument about “attraction” is an old one – and it is not valid. There are already rules in the DoD about Sexual Harassment – and they are not gender based. There are already rules about inappropriate behavior – and they are not gender based. If inappropriate behavior occurs it is a violation and should be dealt with accordingly just as it is (or in many cases is not) NOW. I served 20 years in the military, as did my husband. My father served in the 1940s and early 50s, My elder son served in the last several years. All of us served with individuals who were LGB. Enough already – let all individuals who meet the criteria and who WANT to serve do so.

  • Since when should heterosexuals have a monopoly on patriotism, love of country, courage, and brute strength.

  • What a pathetically misguided statement to assert that all gay men are attracted to any and all men, period. No matter what age, race ethnicity, hair color, weight, stature, religion, etc., Gays are a notoriously meticulous and discriminating group of people. We search for qualities in our partners such as kindness, sincerity, honesty, integrity and education, to name just a few. To claim that we’re attracted to any man who comes along is just disgusting. With an attitude like his, I can’t imagine ANY man would find him attractive.I’m guessing he’s so full of himself, and is such an egomaniac, that he thinks all women are attracted to him, too, regardless of what a miss-informed, self-centered person he has revealed himself to be. My advice to the author–don’t flatter yourself, buddy.And by the way, what about all the sexual assaults that servicemen commit against women? Oh, I get it, they’re just “playing around.” Or perhaps “she was asking for it.” It seems to me that we should kick the sexual predators out of the military. Not those who honorably serve and often die for their country.

  • Is there a belief that if someone is attracted to the other they have no more control over their actions than a wild animal? Just because some may find a colleague attractive (gay or straight) does not give them the permission to act on this attractions. One could argue that straight men have or have not demonstrated the ability to control those emotions.Also, the US is one of the last large scale military powers to condone this form of discrimination. The British, Australian, Canadian and Israeli armies have allowed gay troops for years. This is no longer a test. Just another case of the “land of the free” not really being free for all.

  • A. Gays already serve in the U.S. military. The correct question that should be asked is, should gays in America be allowed to serve OPENLY in our military?B. The answer to that is indisbutably YES! It is absolutely absurd to think that America is so far behind nations they claim to be behind us. We are the only developed nation that does NOT, I repeat, does NOT allow their gays to serve openly. When you are in war, the only thing you’re worried about, or should be worried about, is whether the person serving with you can do their job adequately and you all can get in and out as quickly and safely as possible. Our strongest allies allow their gays to serve openly in the military, why, because it’s one less thing to argue over. Since D.A.D.T. was put in place, over 13,000 men and women have been discharged for their sexual orientation, NOT sexual misconduct, but simply their orientation. Currently, heterosexuals are allowed to pressure ho,osexuals into doing things with the threat of “outing” them, BECAUSE it’s illegal. If they were allowed to serve openly, then there would be far less room for thoses types of things to happen. If we allow this to continue to happen, we will continue to lose valuable assets to, not only our military, but to our society. It’s time for America to start growing up, and start acting like the nation they CLAIM to be!

  • Our soldiers are trained to ignore the symptoms of sleep deprivation, exercise themselves into the peak of physical fitness, wade through muck and mud, crawl through land mines, and run head first into a gunfight…but people are more concerned about how they’ll have to shower and dress in front of someone who’s homosexual?

  • I have been in the Army almost 20 years, and there never seemed to be a problem until I went to Afghanistan for 15 months. We had one person who seemed to be a homosexual; all who met him believed him to be. When he walked in the shower area, most men scrambled to leave. I had always spoken to others about this subject, but I was unsure what would happen; now I know. Knowing what will be involved with implementing this policy, I will retire. I will not spend my time trying to adjust the mentality of the vast majority of the soldiers.

  • One of the main flaws of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is that it shifts the issues from where the real problem is. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” forces gays and lesbians honorably serving their country into silence about who they really are AS AN ACCOMODATION to the PERCEPTUAL discomforts of others. The problem is with the perceptions and the real focus should be on how those perceptions should be corrected – NOT in excluding gays and lesbians. Gays and lesbians already are there, serving in close quarters with heterosexual servicepersons. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” simply creates a fictional illusion that allows perceptual comfort in a denial of reality.

  • Anonymous

    So we have 13,000 qualified and skilled servicemen and women discharged under the policy, and 1 who would retire if the policy is changed. I say change the policy, bring back the 13,000, let the 1 retire, and the US Military only has to recruit 7,001 new service personnel to meet it’s goal of 20,000.

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