Homosexuals in the Military
The United States is one of the last original NATO countries to still ban gays from the military. For years, homosexuals have been denied the right to openly serve America. In this country, just as a man should not be judged by his race, he also should not he be judged by his sexual orientation. In 1990 a survey had been taken and results showed the country consisted of 15% homosexuals. Researchers say this percentage will show an upward curve due to the fact many gays are still very modest about their sexual preference. With such high amount of homosexuals, how could the military declare its exclusion policy on gays moral? Through the years, actions have been made to minimize discrimination within the military, but the ban has yet to be completely lifted. I feel that this is a very important topic, it shows that as much as we deny it, there is still ignorance, separation, and discrimination in this country. Think back to a time when you were discriminated against and felt isolated. Do you remember what a horrible feeling it was? Now imagine how large amounts of American soldiers feel when they are being singled out because of their sexual preference.
In previous years homosexuality was forbidden in the military, though not much has changed, today we have more laws to protect homosexuality. In the early twentieth century homosexuality was considered a crime. People were sentenced to as long as five years. During these times, there were no laws to protect homosexuals in the service. The government issued psychological exams in order to weed out any homosexuals. This put Gays in an awkward position because they only had two choices. They could lie and deny their sexual preference or, admit to their feelings and be sent home in embarrassment and disgrace.
In 1975 one brave man, Sergeant Leonard Matlovich challenged the system. Matlovich was an honorable soldier who served in Vietnam and received multiple awards. He had received the Purple Heart, two Air Force Commendation medals, as well as a Bronze Star for his outstanding distinguished service. In March of 1975, he wrote a letter stating "I consider myself to be a homosexual and fully qualified for further military service" (Oliver 61). Months following he was notified the armed forces were taking action to discharge him from the service. Despite his efforts to take action against the military, he was still discharged under the pretense of him being unfit for service. He then took a further step and brought his situation to federal court. "Although there is no specific guarantee of privacy in the United States Constitution, the right to be left alone is protected in the Fourth, Fifth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments" (Oliver 62). The action the military took was therefore violating his rights. Matlovich fought to be reinstated into the service, eventually his wish was granted. They re-offered him his position, as well as money back for lost time. He declined and settled for a cash settlement. From this point on many other men and woman in uniform have as well stood up to the government and fought their discharges as well. Sergeant Leonard Matlovich paved a way for many homosexuals in the military who were being robbed of their rights.1
When former president Bill Clinton came to office, he seemed eager and committed to lifting the ban on gays in the military. Numerous heterosexual members of the military voiced their complaints, stating homosexuals were unfit to serve. In order to satisfy both sides of the issue Clinton passed the "Don't ask, Don't tell, Don't pursue, Don't harass" policy. This policy gives homosexuals the right to serve the country as long as they do not show or speak of their sexual preference. They must keep their sexual orientation a secret at all times and refrain from any physical contact with a person of the same gender. The military is banned from asking about ones sexual...
Bibliography: Bender, David. Homosexuality Opposing Views. San Diego:California, 1993.
Oliver, Marilyn Tower. Gay and Lesbian Rights – A Struggle. Springfield: New Jersey, 1998.
Wells-Petry, Melissa. Exclusion. Washington: D.C., 1993.
Generals and admirals call for repeal of Don 't Ask, Don 't tell. Seattle Gay News. Volume 33, Issue 9, 2005.
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