Continue the Trend Toward Allowing Gays to Serve in Uniform

Despite the name “United States of America” the citizenry of this nation remain severely divided on many hot-button social and political issues. One of the issues on which people seem in sharpest disagreement is the subject of permitting gay men and women to serve openly in the military. Many changes are taking place in legislation and military regulations on this topic right now. Some have personal objections to allowing gay people to serve in uniform. In this article those concerns will be addressed and several reasons for allowing gay people to serve will be presented.

The chief argument presented against gays in the military is that straight service-people might feel awkward in some situations around gay people. It’s true that some military personnel might experience the need for an adjustment period. This is the same challenge the military faced when it began including black soldiers during the civil war, when it was desegregated, or when it began allowing women to enlist. The need for adjustment would pass regarding gay people just as it has for people of color and for women. Between military training methods and service people’s strength of character they get past such challenges rapidly.

Rather than dwelling on reasons why gay people should not be allowed to serve, let’s examine some reasons why they should – and why the military should adjust to accommodate that.

It is currently more difficult than ever to fill boots in all branches of the military. Making the military neutral toward sexual orientation would encourage enlistment from within the gay populace, tapping a new demographic for service. People within the gay community feel the same sense of patriotism as any other population segment and would answer the call to serve. This would make it easier to keep the head count high and relieve the need for measures like stop-loss, which is denying people the chance to end their service on time; or recalling people to active service from their civilian lives.

Some estimates count the gay population as being as high as one in ten citizens, or even more. That’s a tremendous pool of potential enlistees. Our military can only continue as an all-volunteer force if it has enough volunteers. Opening the gates of basic training camps to gay citizens will help keep it all-volunteer, avoiding the need for a draft.

This would have an additional effect of saving the military money. Right now the armed services frequently offer large sums of money as incentive to re-enlist. It’s also expensive to keep training replacements every few years for all the people who elect to leave the service. Encouraging the enlistment of people who want to be in uniform, and who may make a career of it, is a money saver for the armed services. As tax payers, that’s also a savings for all U.S. citizens.

Unemployment affects gay people just like straight people. Military service is a source of employment for all who qualify. This could reduce unemployment claims from the gay community, requiring less tax revenue to fund those obligations from the government – a second savings to the taxpayers.

As an American your freedom and national security both depend heavily upon having a skilled military capable of defending the country from any external threats. National Guard troops often assist with disaster relief. Drugs are kept off the streets in part by Coast Guard interdiction efforts. Welcoming gay members to their ranks will make every arm of the uniformed services better staffed and better able to carry out their missions. It would make us safer from terrorism, the effects of natural disasters, and drug-related crime.

Gay people are used to dealing with adversity. Anyone wishing to serve despite those challenges is sure to be a very motivated service member. This tends to be true of minority groups. Consider the “glass ceiling” against which females in the work force must struggle. Women in the workplace often put forth exemplary efforts in order to earn the respect, both from their peers and themselves. The same would happen with military volunteers from the gay community. They would be good soldiers, sailors, airmen or marines simply to demonstrate their ability to do the job without regard for the irrelevant factor of orientation.

In short, gay people should be allowed to serve because it will keep the military staffed with motivated men and women, keeping us safer, for less money than is currently being spent. The only practical new cost would be adjustment period exactly like those experienced when removing ethnic and gender barriers to service, and which would be overcome with exactly the same success. Support the continued move toward making orientation a non-issue for military service. It benefits every citizen of the United States.

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