Prejudice repealed again
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The United States in and around Palm Springs, CA
      A bill was passed in the Senate and House of Representatives to repeal the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy that President Clinton initiated that applied to the Armed Forces. That policy had forbid gays, or even people with a propensity or intent to commit homosexual acts, from serving in the armed forces. It also restricted any efforts by the military to discover and reveal gay servicemen. The policy also forbid homosexuals from speaking about gay relationships, including marriage, and if found out would suffer discharge from their branch of service. When this repeal is officially put into effect, there will undoubtedly be questions, and concerns about situations, that will be addressed. Here might be a short list of those.
      Needless to say, there are on record cases of harassment, physical abuse, and even violence, towards gay men in the service, as there is elsewhere. And that was prior to and during the "don't ask, don't tell" policy era. Somehow, the gay men were just found out and were cruelly abused. Is it possible that there could be, among certain gays, unique body languages that, to a "straight" man, might reveal a gay sexual preference? In any event, now that the policy's repeal is close to becoming law, will it likely eliminate, to any significant degree, the intolerable, prejudicial attitude towards gays? Whether or not thousands of men, working in tight quarters day and night, will accept admitted gay men in their service lives, remains to be seen.
      There are those who say that the problem of gays in the military will fade away after awhile, just as some of the overt racial hatred and discrimination in the services seemed to wane after President Harry S. Truman forbid it. However, there is some information about military life that would question the degree to which it has disappeared. To put it bluntly, many men just get turned off with the thought of what sexual practices gays are involved in, even when done in private, and especially recoil when gays show affection to one another in public. The feelings some men, in the military or out, have when they see a man and woman kissing are worlds apart from the feelings they get when they see two men kissing while strolling down the street. And for some men, I suspect those attitudes and feelings may never change.
      There are, reportedly, "scientific" studies and surveys that seem to indicate that a high percent of members of the armed forces do not feel that openly admitted gays in the military would cause a reduction in morale or discipline. As of now, those are just words, and some believe the results of the studies are just a spin used by those in favor of the repeal. Anyway, the truth of the results of the studies has yet to be tested, as this is the first time in our history that the subject of gays in the military has reached such a high level of oversight.
      Concerns over gays are varied. Can heterosexuals easily change their attitudes and behavior that show clearly how they regard gays as less of a man, prejudiced feelings based on their upbringing, the way they were taught, not feelings they were born with? Ways that show up in hatred, alienation and even cruelty. On the other hand, should gays be expected to change their sexual orientation? Can they? Is their attraction to men an inborn drive, or is it a learned response that through education can be altered? The heterosexual preference for women is viewed as a natural, necessary way of insuring that the human race doesn't die out. Sexual attraction of men to men doesn't serve this purpose and this is one of the issues of whether or not a gay life style is a natural state.
      Just what is the average gay man's approach to other men, as surely they must differ? Are they inclined to go steady with one man at a time? Do they "hit" on many men? On only gay men? What is the truth? I suspect some men believe that gays are rampant in a search for other men anywhere anytime. Is the turmoil, over gays everywhere, not only in the military, just a result of ignorance, and a lack of understanding of the entire homosexual culture?
     The anxiety over gays in the military seems to center over whether their presence would cause a lowering of morale, discipline, and battlefield resolve. Would there be widespread dissension? Would the "straight" servicemen lose their focus if made to share tight quarters with a gay man during maneuvers or in actual battle? Would they have to be ordered to ignore the presence of gays? How would the orders be enforced? What punishment would follow refusal to follow orders involving gays? They say that during wartime, following orders immediately saves lives.
      These are difficult issues, especially for people deeply concerned with equal rights regarding sexual preference in the workplace, schools, religious institutions and elsewhere, not just in the military environment. But attitudes about sexual preference carries over dramatically into the military where lives are at risk and emotions are tremendously vulnerable. If "straight" men can dig deep down into their souls to look for humane answers, and are honest with themselves about their own doubts and fears about gays, maybe they could gain a better understanding of the problem that probably will not go away soon, and maybe, just maybe, become a better person for it.
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