Let them serve

By Lauren Belcher | CBelcher@flagler.edu

In the ’40s, African Americans could not fight in the United States Armed forces. In the ’60s, women could not fight in the US Armed Forces.

Both of these military policies were removed due to social changes in society. Now, it’s time for another change: the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the US Armed Forces.

Just like the ones listed before, 50 years from now, we will look back in awe at the rules we created limiting those who want to serve. If they are willing to sign their names on that piece of paper, and give their life for their country, let them serve.

I went out to see if everyone agreed with my strong open view of the military. I thought for sure that everyone would agree that “Don’t ask, don’t tell” was an outdated policy. I was surprised.

As I walked into the American Legion Post 37, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The front room was empty, but in the back, I could hear familiar sounds of alcohol-induced conversation and laughter. I took a deep breath and walked in.

I sat down at the bar and quickly realized that I stuck out in this group. Everyone around me was twice if not three times my age.

“How old are you honey?” the bartender asked me. “I’m 21,” I replied.

The lady to the left of me swirled around toward me. “21!?” she asked. “What are you doing here love?” I told her I am a student on assignment and that I wanted to talk to veterans about a military policy. “Well, Jess is a veteran, talk to him,” she said, obviously disappointed by my boring reason for being here.

The man she was referring to was sitting at the end of the bar, clearly drunk even though it was only 2 p.m. I went over to Jess and asked him if I could interview him for a school project about a military policy. Jess turned around and smiled at me. “Sir, are you a veteran?” I asked.

“Nope, but my whole family was in the military,” he said. “Perfect,” I said. “So Jess, what do you think about homosexuals in the military?” He thought for a moment, trying to grasp what I had just said. Then, his face twisted in a look of anger and disgust. First, he spit. Then, he yelled two words I will never forget. “F*** faggots!”

I was shocked. He continued on, talking about the Bible and disease, but I had stopped listening. My mind was racing. How could someone be so intolerant? And worse, quote the Bible for their reasoning?

This conversation, although extremely unpleasant, drove the issue home for me. Homosexuals should be allowed in the military. If for no other reason than to make soldiers with Jess’ mindset uncomfortable. As far as I’m concerned, they need the exposure.

No one should have to hide who they are. If heterosexuals are allowed to proudly flaunt their sexuality, then why shouldn’t homosexuals have the same right? You can not look someone in the eye and say, “You can serve but you need to hide everything you are or we’ll kick you out.” It’s absurd.

We need to back President Obama’s plea to Congress. We need to reevaluate the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and deem it outdated. That way, homosexual soldiers will be able to serve openly without fear of punishment from their superiors. The way it should be. We don’t want our future grandchildren to ask us, “Why did your generation prevent certain people from fighting for our country?”

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