Clearly define ‘openly gay’

Published: June 2, 2010

I have noticed increasing commentary by servicemembers of various ranks and branches about the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The key thing to remember is that policies are made, revised, deleted and, in some cases, brought back later.

My question isn’t whether the policy should be repealed. It is quite clear that it will be repealed, based on the compromise reached by the Congress and the Department of Defense, so more discussion of that question is pointless. Nor is it a question of competence based on one’s sexual orientation.

What has never been discussed is exactly how “openly gay” will be defined. Will it be defined through some “mass media definition,” meaning that gays will be parading down Main Street in their uniforms, shouting, “We’re queer and we’re here”? Or does it mean that they will be held to the same standard as someone who is “openly Christian” but isn’t allowed to “openly” discuss their religious beliefs in uniform?

A professional organization, no matter how big or how small, defines itself solely by the standards it not only sets for itself, but also enforces. The military has been an agent of social change in far too many things to think that allowing gays to serve openly is new social engineering. Sixty-plus years ago, we did it with minorities and we are the better for it. Thirty-plus years ago, the same thing happened with women. Through it all, standards weren’t compromised.

The time has come for someone to finally address the definition of what it is to be “openly gay” in the military through the letter of the law, and not through the court of public media/opinion. Then, set the standard and enforce it “openly.”

Staff Sgt. Michael Lukeman

Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq


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