There was a time in this country when the word “gay” meant happy. “Gay” was a common word in many popular songs. For example the song “Twistin’ the Night Away” by Sam Cooke went "Let me tell you 'bout a place, Somewhere up-a New York way, Where the people are so gay, Twistin' the night away-ay…" Or in the Christmas song Deck the Halls, they sing “Don we now our gay apparel.” In the song “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story, Maria sings “I feel pretty and witty and gay.” Even Elvis sang songs that had the word “Gay” in it and as far as I know, Elvis was heterosexual. The Flintstones theme song ended with telling us that “We’ll have a gay old time!” There was no other meaning to the word “gay” then happy. The word had no connotation to homosexuality in any way shape or form. But somehow in the early seventies the word came to be associated with people who were attracted to the same sex. “Homosexual” was considered to be to clinical. “Queer” was to insulting. “Gay” just seem to fit. The truth is people have been gay for as long as there have been people. This is nothing new. Homosexuals didn’t all of a sudden appear when the word Gay started being used to describe them. Today, whether the Christian right likes it or not, Gay men and women exist in every level of our society. They are doctors and lawyers, politicians and pastors. They are teachers, they are mothers, they are fathers, they are our co-workers, and our neighbors. And they are even our soldiers. The amazing thing is that in every aspect of our society, except for the military, a person can be openly gay with out fear that they will face legal retribution for being gay. Yet in our military, for the past 17 years we have tolerated legalized discrimination through a policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. What’s missing from that policy is “and Pray to G-d you Don’t Get Caught”. In the military, being gay is not just frowned upon it is a crime that is punishable not only by dishonorable discharge but by imprisonment. A person can go to jail in the military simply for there sexual preference. In all other parts of our society this intolerance of sexual orientation is considered a hate crime but in our military it’s considered standard policy.
But now congress is considering the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a move that is long over due. On Wednesday the Pentagon promised congress that they would provide an honest assessment on whether allowing gays to serve openly might cause troops to lose their edge in battle. Let’s think about this for a moment. If you consider that the estimated percentage of U.S. Citizens who are openly gay is 4%, and if we apply that same percentage to the amount of active troops currently serving in our military, which is about 1,475,000, then there are about 59,000 men and women currently in our military who are gay. That’s a lot of gay soldiers, gay soldiers who are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, helping with relief efforts in Haiti, manning our nuclear subs and protecting our coast lines. It’s not like if all of a sudden if we allow them to be openly gay they are going to ask for pink uniforms and start redecorating the mess hall. Most likely nothing will happen, except the tables will turn and the ones being prosecuted will be those who are showing intolerance to gay individuals. But there must be some precedence set for this somewhere around the world? There must be at least one other country that allows openly gay men and women to serve, that can give us some type of indication of how this would affect our military? Well actually there is. You see there are 25 other countries that around the world don’t make there soldiers hide who they are and don’t send them to prison for it either. They are:
As you can see, precedence has been set. We would be far from the only country who openly allows gays to serve in the military. But what most of us don’t seem to realize is that many of our troops have already served with openly gay men and women in the military. One of our biggest allies is the United Kingdom. They have been right by our side through both wars in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan. And as far as I know there were no reports of problems with troop morale because of an openly gay soldier fighting right next to them for the same freedoms as everyone else. In fact as far as I know, they had a gay old time.