Gays in the Military

GAYS IN THE MILITARY….Former Republican senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming writes that he came to his senses a few years ago on the issue of gays in the military:

My thinking shifted when I read that the military was firing translators because they are gay. According to the Government Accountability Office, more than 300 language experts have been fired under “don’t ask, don’t tell,” including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. This when even Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently acknowledged the nation’s “foreign language deficit” and how much our government needs Farsi and Arabic speakers. Is there a “straight” way to translate Arabic? Is there a “gay” Farsi? My God, we’d better start talking sense before it is too late. We need every able-bodied, smart patriot to help us win this war.

Good for him. The rest of his piece makes plenty of good points (society has changed, military views have shifted, other countries allow gays to serve with no ill effects, etc.), but it was one of his concluding sentences that, I think, gets to the core of things: “Since 1993, I have had the rich satisfaction of knowing and working with many openly gay and lesbian Americans, and I have come to realize that ‘gay’ is an artificial category when it comes to measuring a man or woman’s on-the-job performance or commitment to shared goals. It says little about the person.”

People who are afraid of gays are usually people who have never met a gay person (or think they haven’t, anyway). Conversely, people who have quickly learn that there’s nothing to be afraid of. If there’s a better reason than that for allowing gays to serve in the military, I can’t think of one.