I understand both sides of the “gays serving openly” debate. But I think we all need to step back and look at history on this one.

I challenge Stars and Stripes to pull up letters to the editor that were published when African-Americans first joined the military and when women were allowed to join. Next would be the freedom of religion — allowing different religions to practice and providing places of worship to Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. (not just Christians).

Every time there’s a change, there’s outcry but, once the dust settles, we are the better for it. Change brings chaos, which brings growth. The truth behind this debate lies in the logistics of allowing gays to serve openly, not in our personal beliefs. Imagine 60 grown men in one locker room for eight to 16 weeks. The majority are heterosexual, but there are a few homosexuals. The word gets out and now you have a safety concern.

It’s human nature to be afraid of what we don’t understand, and it is the safety of openly serving gays that concerns me.

I would never advocate smashing the rights of another human being. I would never support ignorance or judge that which is not for us to judge. However, I do think that allowing gays to serve openly will require sensitivity training (acceptance of differences) and logistical maneuvering in order to house new recruits safely. Anyone who has been through basic training and lived in a dormitory will understand.

I would accept an openly gay recruit more for his or her strength than anything else. But there are many out there — for religious, personal or political reasons — who will not see it that way. If the military is to allow gays to serve openly, then it is the military’s responsibility to provide them a safe environment in which to pursue their military careers.

Jen WalshRamstein Air Base, Germany

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