Lettin’ in “the gays”

The ban on allowing only certain people to serve without secrecy and shame in the United States Military has ended, giving all LGB (not T?) persons another venue in which to pursue their chosen career path with a semblance of integrity.

I have always had mixed feelings about the ban. On the one hand, having worked with a number of U.S. veterans, I think military culture often has a negative impact on individuals, especially when it comes to relating to civilian life. Life in the barracks or on active duty can be far removed from the reality of most Americans’ day-to-day lives. Some of my military friends say that is how it needs to be in order to combat the enemy. I’m not so sure. I do know that the culture offers very little support for soldiers re-entering civilian life, resuming relationships and entering the workforce. It’s even worse for those with PTSD.

On the other hand, I think everyone has the right to choose their own path to empowering themselves as human beings- sometimes this is the only (or at least glaring) option for those without other resources to gain a shot at higher education or skill training. So if someone wants to serve, being able to do so without shame or fear of discovery- at least officially, can only make the military better, and camaraderie more honest. And when official shaming ends, we move closer to full acceptance and integration into society- and further away from internalized homophobia and humiliation.

All good things.

And for those who think the president hasn’t done enough: I believe he and his administration are doing as much as they can- and carefully enough that the changes they do make will stand. Across the board, from Health and Human Services to the Justice Department to the FDA, changes that reflect good science and social practice are being carefully integrated into public policy- as are the diversity of the personnel involved (which include a large number of LGBT persons). That isn’t often remembered because it’s not sexy, sensational or scintillating. But it’s totally important to our well-being as a diversity-accepting country. It’s the Obama Long Game. And I’m a fan.

They haven’t lost me, because I know this would have never happened under President McCain.