In the Canadian Forces we have officially welcomed active homosexuals to serve in the ranks for years now, as a reflection of Canada’s laws prohibiting discrimination for race, sexual orientation, or gender.
In the US military however there have been longstanding fears that allowing gays and lesbians to serve would impair the effectiveness of combat units. Today the Washington Post reported that the Obama administration was in talks with congress to repeal the Clinton-era “Don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) policy, which in effect allowed gays and lesbians to serve if they did not draw any attention to their orientation, and were in effect sexually invisible. The proposed compromise with Congress is that the policy would not be changed until the Pentagon releases a study on the subject, due 1 December.
In related news, Thomas Rick’s Best Defence Blog offers this moving reflection from a US Army officer on the human cost of serving under DADT Worth reading, as are any of these testimonies on being gay in the US military offered by the ServiceMembers Legal Defence Network blog.
We actually touched on this issue in the Ethics course that’s just wrapping up here in Ottawa. Bottom line: doesn’t matter what we as chaplains believe about homosexuality according to our theological beliefs. As chaplains, we are called to serve all in the military without partiality as best as we can. These stories reinforce the fact that gay and lesbian soldiers are as human as anyone else in or out of uniform, and that the military is not immune to the social complexity of this issue. As an infantry major I know likes to say, “If they can shoot straight and march far, we like ’em.” Amen to that.