Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More
“Don’t Ask Don’t, Don’t Tell” is Repealed
Yesterday, December 18, 2010, a major victory was scored by those who want to protect the civil rights of all Americans. Both Republicans and Democrats joined forces and approved a law repealing the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy.
In years past the policy was to ban gays from serving in the armed forces. Then, during President Clinton’s administration, a new law was approved by Congress: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In other words homosexuals could serve if they kept it a secret.
The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell means that if you are a gay male or female service person, you no longer need to keep your sexual orientation secret for fear of being discharged.
Is this a good thing?
In my opinion and in the opinion of the U.S Government, the answer is an unqualified “yes!” In fact, surveys of military personnel both at home and in Iraq and Afghanistan show that they are indifferent to the issue. In many cases they are indifferent because they both trained and fought alongside gays.
Homosexual men have always served in the military but had to keep it secret. Yet, these soldiers served with honor and valor in past and present wars. They suffered casualties leading to death or permanent disabilities.
We need fighting men and women and, it seems to me, that who they have sex with is no one’s business. If there is a problem, it is that heterosexual soldiers harass and rape female personnel. The available statistics on the number of sexual assaults is considered to be low because many women choose not to report it. That choice is made out of feelings of shame and the fear of reprisals.
There are many stereotypes about gays, including their being flamboyant, effeminate, weak and cowardly. Real people who are gay project an equally rugged masculinity and femininity in contradiction to all stereotypes. For example, I have personally known psychiatrists, psychologists and medical doctors who were so very masculine that it came as a surprise to me when I learned of their homosexuality.
One major argument against gays in the military is that chaplains will disapprove because homosexuality is a sin. On that basis it is also feared that people will no longer sign up for service and that the issue will create tension among the troops and damage morale. The fact that this has not happened in the past seems to escape those critics.
Is homosexuality a sin?
We are a mental health site and, therefore, attempt to understand human behavior, feelings and thinking, and to do so without judgment or prejudice. From a psychological and medical point of view, homosexuality is not a matter of choice. A variety of physiological factors, from genes to hormones, may cause a person to be gay just as they cause a person to have an eye color, potential for addiction, and hair color, among many other things. It is true that during adolescence, where there is a lot of confusion about many things, some will experiment with homosexuality, but the results only confirm the fact that they are firmly heterosexual. In other words, there is a huge difference between some experimenting during childhood and a firm homosexual orientation.
There are religious prohibitions against homosexuality in the New and Old Testament as well as in the Koran. However, it seems to me that issues of sin are between each individual and God, be it Allah, Christ or Yahweh.
There was a time, not long ago, when women were denied the right to vote, Black Americans were not allowed to sit anywhere on a bus, except in the back, Jews were denied entry to many athletic clubs and medical schools, etc. Now, women not only vote but serve in Congress, Black Americans have equal rights in public schools, Congress has many Black and Latino members and a Black American is president of the United States. Jews join athletic clubs and graduate from medical schools. Why should gay people have to cower in the corner when they give their lives to the country during war, and act as responsible American citizens?
Your thoughts, opinions and questions are welcome.
Allan N. Schwartz, PhD