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"With Liberty and Justice for all"

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So ends our, American, Pledge of Allegiance, but for many this has not been true.  For the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/intersex (glbti), little liberty and scant justice has been the environment that they lived in.  Although that environment has improved, and continues to improve, there is still a long road ahead.  With the repeal, but currently unimplemented, of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) is now more open than before.  Even with a more open road, some concern has been voiced that need to be addressed, specifically what does it mean to "Serve Openly"?

Most people exist in a world where their lives fit, however roughly.  They are male or female and have a societal accepted inclination of being attracted to the opposite gender.  They live, they love and life continues.  Some, however, did not have the acceptance of society and labored under that rejection with whatever psychological maneuverings they could accomplish.  Each subcategory of glbti has their own unique issues but all have been subjected to the same societal hostility.

To people that are straight the plight of glbti, henceforward identified as gay, people is difficult to understand.  Often it is heard that "Why are you gays so demanding, why don't you just live your life as you chose?" On its surface this is all that gays truly want, to be left alone.  Sadly that is not what is permitted, or rather that was not how it was permitted since society is moving into a more accepting stance.

Prior to 1973, when the American Psychology Association (APA) removed homosexuality from its diagnostic list of mental illnesses, people at large held the belief that gays were a sick people, and like all the mentally ill were shunned, at best, or experienced outright violent hostility, at worse.  But this mental illness excuse is far from the truth, most hostility is enforced, or downright encouraged, by religious indoctrination.  Since this nation is largely one composed primarily by Christians, six isolated, and disemboweled, segments of scripture has been used to demean, persecute, and, in some cases, enable the killing of gay people without law enforcement even raising an eyebrow. For anyone born, and mostly raised, prior to 1973 this pervasive hostile environment was what they were subjected to. In that environment the gay person learned to hide, if possible.  

It is claimed that communication is mostly nonverbal.  That most of our understanding is conveyed by body language.  A child reacts first to such body language and later learns the verbal.  When it came to the issue of homosexuals, most adults displayed strong disapproval, in both body language and verbal discourse.  A child learns many things before they acquire the ability to reason and develop attitudes and beliefs.  For a child that is gay, this rejection of gays long precedes their full discovery of their orientation.  Like all people these gay youths build walls in an effort to protect themselves.  Although there is an issue of familial rejection, a subject I will not address here, the protections developed work to some extent. So how does this apply to gay troops? 

In addition to the general dangers all gays are subjected to, there is the added danger of loss of employment, and possibly subjected to blackmail.  This latter issue is one used by many to justify the exclusion of gays in any position of security.  But it is a reason that is created because gays have to live in the closet by virtue of placing them in a position that creates the blackmail possibility. If gays need not hide, no blackmail potential exists.

Don't ask, Don't tell was created to prevent President Clinton from issuing a an Executive Order to allow gays to serve openly.  As a compromise, it was perhaps a needed step but it has served its purpose and needed to be rescinded.  With the aid of Congress, President Obama signed its repeal on 22 Dec, a great day for justice and liberty!

What does it mean "To serve openly"?  A lot of hysteria surrounds this but in simple terms it merely means that gays would no longer have to practice deception in their daily encounters.  Each day there are conversations on what people did on their time off, conversations on family life and so forth.  Under DADT such conversations were either made with gender changes or silence.  The body language often told the questioner more and possibly create suspicion.  Sometimes the gay troop avoided making close ties to fellow troops, thus harming unit cohesion.

To serve openly, gay troops would no longer need to watch what they say, nor hide who they are.  DADT restores integrity, free speech rights, and association rights, to name just a few, that have unconstitutionally been denied.

 

Rev Spears is an ordained Universalist Minister. He is active in his church and an activist for Gay Rights.
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