At the risk of being branded un-American, or a hater of the troops, I must confess that I have never understood why anyone would join the military, no matter what your sexual orientation. Even my earliest understandings of the Bible and the Christianity in which I was raised, seemed to warn against warring — and definitely against killing.
As a high school student I was heavily recruited by the several branches of the service and finally told the recruiters that I was a conscientious objector who would have nothing to do with guns, no matter what kind of sweet job they wanted to offer me to get my signature on their papers. Learning to shoot a gun at other people in the hope of wounding or killing them made no sense to me. I’ve always believed that there are better alternatives to war or killing your enemy. I agree with Clement of Alexandria who wrote: “As simple and quiet sisters, peace and love require no arms. For it is not in war, but in peace, that we are trained.”
The exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the military then, to me, was not an issue. I never wanted to serve, so it didn’t bother me that the military didn’t want me. It was all good. However, that all being said, there are gays and lesbians who wish to serve our country in the military. Christian and non-Christian gays and lesbians hold a different opinion of war and national security than I do and they want the chance to serve “the country that they love,” as President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address.
For those seeking equality in the military ranks, the president’s words were welcome:
“This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.”
Gay and lesbian people should have equality in all areas of life, including military service. I, too, support the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) – a messy law that encourages dishonesty from gay and lesbian people who wish to join the military. Right from the start, gays and lesbians are expected to break every code of honor in the service just to get the chance to do what they feel called to do. That’s unfair, as well as immoral. If gay and lesbian people are willing to give their lives in service to this country, they must be able to honest and open about who they are. Anything less is cheapens their lives and their courage.
It’s a promise the gay and lesbian community has heard from Obama already. He promised in his campaign to repeal DADT during his first year in office. Obviously, that did not happen. Gay and lesbian people are angry and discouraged these days after marriage equality defeats in Maine, New Jersey, California, and New York. Even a victory of the passage of the hate crimes law can’t seem to ease the sting of these rebukes for some in our community.
While I refuse to pick up a gun to shoot my enemies down, I realize that, ironically, I am a warrior – a soldier fighting for the equality of all people who have been oppressed and marginalized by government and other institutions, including the church. It’s good to hear that we have an ally, at least in the repeal of DADT, in President Obama. It remains to be seen if he has the courage to actually use his political ammunition to bring about the equality victory he has promised.