The government is debating whether or not to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the U.S. military's 17-year-old policy prohibiting openly gay and lesbian servicemen and women from serving in the military. Some say that the military would benefit from the repeal. But others like Gen. James Amos, President Obama's nominee to become commandant of the Marine Corps, said changing the law would "weaken morale," according to a story on NPR News. What do you think? Should Don't Ask, Don't Tell be repealed? In the long run, will changing the law benefit gays and lesbians already serving in the military?
A person's sexual orientation is a matter between themselves and God. It is not up to us to decide whether one person's lifestyle is right or another's is wrong.
Jesus said: "Judge not lest you be judged." If we follow this rule there would be a lot fewer problems in social interaction. We would accept one another and not try to change one another. We would, in a word, love one another.
Jesus taught us that every person has about them a certain nobility. They are created in his image, and that image is surely noble. If we respect a person's nobility, we then are respecting them and, at the same time, respecting the Christ within them.
I would never want to change even one tiny aspect of who Christ is. No one of us would. He is the all perfect God made man.
So, too, if we decide, by our judgmental attitude, that a person must change because they don't fit into what we consider the norm, we are offending the creator of that person and us. And if we tell them to hide who they are, we are doing the very same thing.
It is said that in his declining years, the beloved disciple John was carried into the center of the expectant crowds who were waiting anxiously to hear his words. He looked them in the eyes and uttered one sentence: "Little children, love one another." If we could only follow that one exhortation, how much simpler and more wonderful life would be.
The Rev. Richard Albarano
St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church,
I would never deny that homosexuals can be as effective as anyone else as servicemen and women. But the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy should not be repealed.
One of a combat unit's primary tasks is to function together as a unified force in battle against the enemy. It is not the place to fight for the expression of one's individual rights or for the public proclamation of one's chosen sexual behavior. A house divided against itself cannot stand, and the social, religious and moral divisions over this issue will never be resolved because scripture doesn't change. I'm not saying a repeal of the policy would completely destroy the military's effectiveness. I'm saying it would introduce unnecessary complications that could be divisive, distracting and detrimental. We might also compare this issue to the ongoing ban against open religious proselytizing by military chaplains — the ultimate "don't tell" injunction against believers. You can be a Christian, but you're not free to talk about it.
Certainly not all, but many, homosexuals are not happy with their feelings, their practices and their lifestyle. Many fight an internal battle between what they desire and what they know is right before God.
To those who wish to change, Jesus Christ offers good news of cleansing and reconciliation. He fought and won the ultimate battle on the cross, defeating sin's consequences, Satan and even death itself. He is "the Captain of the host of the Lord" who recruits and welcomes every person, regardless of their past, who believes he bore their sins on the cross, and died, and rose on the third day.
Pastor Jon Barta
Valley Baptist Church,
Yes, on both counts.
The policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell should be repealed; and in the long run, changing the law will benefit gays and lesbians who are already serving in the military. I'm sorry if such actions would "weaken morale," but in America, civilians are the boss of the military; that's why we have elected officials and not military dictators running the country. In the days of segregation, President Harry Truman integrated the services in one fell swoop with an executive order. Couldn't President Obama do the same?
As I have said before in this space, the gay/lesbian issue is the new slavery/segregation/civil-rights issue. The pledge of allegiance ends with "with liberty and justice for all," not "with liberty and justice for all straight, white, Christian people.
Isn't it time that gays and lesbians, in the military or not, be as free and open about who they are as the rest of us? Again, repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
The Rev. Clifford L. "Skip" Lindeman
La Cañada Congregational Church,
With a nephew currently in Marine Corps boot camp, I take more than a passing interest in this topic. Current Marine Commandant Gen. James T. Conway echoed Gen. James Amos' view with his own self-described "best military advice" that President Obama should "keep the law such as it is."
Imagine the very powerful "few good men" Marine tagline being besmirched with homosexual innuendo while conjuring images of Village People leathernecks in leather chaps. Regular guys will not flock to enlist in a service that makes them appear effeminate or morally suspect. Veterans wear their service with pride, but if they're forced to embrace gay pride, I think it will provide that sort of negative suspicion among the enemy, as well as the general population, similar to that which Catholic priests currently suffer for the numerous homosexual pedophiles that have tainted their orders.
Who would want to share a locker room full of gay recruits sexually sizing them up, or second-guessing a comrade's HIV status in the midst of bloody combat? The Centers for Disease Control confirmed that American homosexuals are 50 times more apt to carry AIDS infection than heterosexuals.
We can't afford to experiment with our nation's soldiers or security. Retired Marine Gen. James Walker advises: "With our armed forces engaged around the world, we should not use them to advance social or political agendas unrelated to military effectiveness. Our nation has many pressing needs … changing the current law limiting homosexual service in the military is not one of them." Not to mention, Bible-believing military chaplains will be the next casualty when repeal leads to repression.
The Rev. Bryan Griem
Montrose Community Church,
Full disclosure before I answer this question:
First, I am praying desperately for the day when there is peace, and we do not teach our children war anymore. I do not want us to make any more Sophie's choices about which young person to send off to learn how to kill and avoid being killed.
Second, while I don't like it and don't agree with it, the United Methodist Church has a Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy for gay and lesbian clergy. Like the military version of the same, it closes out the option for some people, thereby steering gifted and called leaders to other organizations. Also, like the military version of the same, it allows gay and lesbian people to opt in knowing the trade-offs. In the case of clergy, Don't Ask, Don't Tell means closing down opportunities for relationships, or closing off a big part of their lives to their congregations. In my opinion, the church loses out in any of these scenarios.
So while as a Jesus-follower and a pastor I am disinclined to promote war, I am inclined to advocate for a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Humans are richly-designed creations, each with our own gifts, skills, passions, skin color, hair color and other qualities. Most gay and lesbian people do not consider themselves to possess just one quality around which all other life decisions and permissions should be based. Sexual orientation is not all that they are, or "all that they can be," and it is odd that such an assumption continues to exist, given our nation's experience with civil rights for women and people of color.
Morale is indeed the responsibility of leadership, which has the power of influence in either direction. Perhaps President Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, can offer some suggestions to Gen. James Amos on how to create an effective team out of differently-oriented individuals.
The Rev. Paige Eaves
Crescenta Valley United Methodist Church,
Don't Ask, Don't Tell should not be repealed — only half of it should.
Don't Ask should be kept in place. It should be part of federal anti-discrimination law, as it is part of labor law in California and other states. It should never be legal to ask someone's sexual orientation as part of the employment process, or in any other interview. It is no one's business and should have no bearing on employment or service in the military.
Don't Tell, on the other hand, definitely should be repealed. Just ask anyone in kindergarten: "What do you think? Should people be allowed to be honest, or should we force them to lie all the time?"
Along with kindergarteners everywhere, God also lands on the side of honesty and truth: "Thus says the Lord … I am the Lord, and there is no other. I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to [my people], 'Seek me in chaos.' I the Lord speak the truth, I declare what is right" (Isaiah 45:18-19).
Jesus said, "For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth" (John 18:37). Dishonesty and deceit are regularly part of prophetic indictment of immoral behavior: "They all deceive their neighbors, and no one speaks the truth; they have taught their tongues to speak lies; they commit iniquity and are too weary to repent" (Jeremiah 9:5).
And the clearest biblical instruction of all: "These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace, do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath; for all these are things that I hate, says the Lord" (Zechariah 8:16-17).
So yes, Don't Tell should be repealed. Yes, honesty should be allowed. Ask any kindergartener. Ask the God of truth.
The Rev. Amy Pringle
St. George's Episcopal Church,
Let's start with numbers: In May of 2010, UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute published a report stating there were an estimated 70,000 lesbians, gay men and bisexuals serving on active duty, in the ready reserve in standby and retired reserve forces, accounting for approximately 2.2% of military personnel.
Like the other 98% of the military (or at least the ones in active combat duty), they risk their lives in exactly the same way. Their blood spills exactly the same way. Their families rejoice their safe homecoming and grieve their losses exactly the same way.
Adml. Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said, "I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we [force] young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens ... For me, it comes down to integrity — theirs as individuals and ours as an institution."
It seems completely contrary that we send our troops into battle primarily to defend freedom. And yet we do so with a philosophy that limits the rights of a select group, even though all are willing, and have volunteered, to make the ultimate sacrifice. Personally, I think it takes an incredibly selfless person to defend a stranger's freedom while theirs is being compromised.
I suppose if we can't get beyond the abstract moral argument, then perhaps we ought to look at the concrete, fiscal benefit to repealing this law. The Williams Institute report also pointed out that since the inception of Don't Ask/Don't Tell, the US government has spent between $290 million and more than a half-billion dollars to implement the policy. That is money that could be used to help ensure the safety of every soldier, regardless of any sexual preference. Can anyone seriously argue that a safer military would weaken morale? I doubt it.