August 12, 2005

Be All You Can Be? Not Quite

How often have you heard the phrase "Be all you can be" used as a recruiting slogan by the United States military? I would think probably hundreds, if not thousands of times over the year. It’s a good one, isn’t it?

If you happen to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual however, it is a lie.

Not only is the military staunchly defending its "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy in court, they appear to be aggressively seeking out soldiers that are deemed to violate its very broad interpretation.

In the past year, at least five soldiers have been discharged from the military for placing online personal ads that identify them as gay. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) reports that there have been at least 40 "outings" in similar incidents they have monitored this year.

Who is taking the time to peruse gay personals anyway? Is that actually in someone’s job description? Would we have a better chance of finding Osama Bin Laden if he was trying to get hooked up with a gay lover? Is this really important enough to further deplete the ranks of soldiers that are already spread too thin?

I’m proud of our brave men and women that sign up to leave their homes and put their lives at risk. Most of us have a friend or relative that served in at least one of the Iraq wars. I have a brave young cousin that was over with the first wave of forces in 2003. Whether you agree or disagree with the politics involved God Bless our soldiers for being willing to go and defend our nation.

The fact that military leadership continues to enforce this inane "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy and are willing to go so far as to review personal ads, however, helps make the phrase "military intelligence" seem like an oxymoron.

Speaking of morons, have these people watched too many episodes of MASH? Do they expect gay soldiers to act like Corporal Klinger in the early years, reporting for duty in women’s clothing? Are they afraid of gay soldiers heading out on troop maneuvers wearing pink chiffon and demanding candelabras at the mess halls with Liberace dinner music piped in?

I’m asking a lot of questions here and providing few answers because I just don’t get it. As far as society has come in so many areas, it is sad that the leaders of the group that could literally blow up the world still acts as if they fear people that are not like them.

Many leaders of the right wing have tried to make patriotism and morality into black and white issues, allowing no room for shades of gray, not to mention any rainbow colors. No wonder they are usually the political champions of the Armed Forces.

In the United States military, it’s not about being all you can be; it’s about being all they will allow you to be.

August 09, 2005

Destroying the "Traditional Family"

For a long time, I bought the right-wing party line about how allowing gay couples to marry would lead to the “destruction of the traditional family,” as they love to trumpet loudly.

Then I did something the Religious Right just abhors—I thought for myself and then actually became acquainted with some gay couples. I have seen a love and devotion in these couples that reminds me of that I sharedwith my late wife and now with my fiancee. How could these people having the right to get married destroy anything?

In this excerpt from his book “Marriage Under Fire,” Dr. James Dobson wraps up his case against gay marriage. I found it appallingly easy to unravel. Here are a few of his key points and where I see reality is different.

“The legalization of homosexual marriage will quickly destroy the traditional family.” Do you know what really destroys the traditional family? Divorce! Yes, even some of the ministers who so piously preach about “family values” from the pulpit every Sunday have broken their marriage vows and divorced their wives. It just makes common sense to me that we should be a LOT more worried about heterosexuals failing at marriage than gay couples, many who have been together functioning as marred couples for years, having the opportunity to enjoy those benefits.

“Children Will Suffer Most.” Here the esteemed Dr. Dobson points out that homosexuals are rarely monogamous. Again, I’d worry about that 50% divorce rate myself. What is worse, living with two fathers or two mothers or being raised by a single parent? It just makes sense that having two committed partners who love each other and love a child builds a very solid foundation in a child’s life.

“Public schools will embrace homosexuality.” Heaven forbid that acceptance be taught in our public schools. After all, it obviously is not in Dr. Dobson’s church!

“Religious freedom will almost certainly be jeopardized.” Here Dr. Dobson cites examples of legislation in Canada designed to restrict hate-mongering speeches against gays. Thank heavens preachers are free to preach messages of hate and exclusion in our fine nation!

“The gospel of Jesus Christ will be severely curtailed.” The Religious Right’s narrow-minded and twisted view of Jesus would take a hit, that’s for sure. What would come forth is a renewed emphasis on how He loves ALL people who accept him as Lord and Savior.

One might read this and wonder how I, a lowly accountant and sportswriter by trade, would dare to challenge a man so learned as Dr. James Dobson, someone who has sold millions of books and has a nationwide radio ministry.

I would respond by saying I am simply observing my surroundings, opening my heart to the Holy Spirit, and following His lead. I did NOT establish a political agenda and look to filter everything, even the Word of God, through that agenda. I do not fear or hate people who are not like me. Jesus preached love and acceptance and that is the example I try to follow.

People like Dr. Dobson are trying to secure the future of the family by keeping apart people who truly love and are committed to each other, but happen to be gay. Does that sound as stupid to you as it does to me?

A productive focus on the family would be one that helps people, regardless of sexual orientation, make better decisions when they take their marriage vows and offer assistance and guidance in keeping them.

Of course, that wouldn’t sell as many books or bring in as many donations, would it?