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Point of View: Working for military more than political statement

Nov. 16, 2010

By Henry Chan

There are currently less than 1 percent of Americans who serve in the armed forces and have sworn to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, with their lives.

The rest of the country gets to decide on life-changing policies. At one point, lawmakers ought to figure out their priorities before they set off on personal crusades.

For a few days in late October, the military abandoned its "Don't ask don't tell" policy.

However the repeal was soon reversed. For those few days, military recruiters accepted applicants who are openly gay or bisexual.

Some compare this repeal of "Don't ask don't tell" to the military opening its gates to different races or females.

Can these truly be compared to one another, or are there discrepancies?

The military operates under a culture of its own. Despite numerous Hollywood attempts to provide the rest of the country with a taste, it is hard for the average citizen to understand how the military operates.

The effectiveness of a soldier depends on both the ability to perform as much as the contributions to unit cohesion.

Those who oppose homosexuals in the military will argue that homosexuals will create enough animosity within a unit to where it may not be able to function.

According to, more than 40 percent of soldiers originate from the South.

Uncomfortable feelings are apparent for those who perhaps do not grow up with the concept of open homosexuality.

This makes the argument for "Don't ask don't tell" pointed toward having to overcome a cultural hurdle.

On the other hand, it is nothing like female or racial integration.

Unlike females, open homosexuals are biologically similar to the heterosexual. It does not require different facilities or barracks.

Soldiers are expected to execute given orders in a diligent and professional manner.

If one's sexual behavior is not to be a concern on duty,

why would open homo- or heterosexualism even matter for signing up?

Displaying such acts would be an indication on the soldier and the unit's lack of discipline.

Our military has been among the first to pioneer equal opportunities for females and a desegregated fighting force long before the civilian work force.

To those who serve, we swore our oath to uphold the laws and directions of our elected officials. The change in policy is nothing more than adaptation.

Perhaps it should be a wakening to some activists who are trying to fight for gay and lesbian rights that we are still engaged in a long and tough war against an ever more elusive enemy in a highly inhospitable terrain.

In the past 10 years, American servicemen have given their lives in protection of our rights to debate homosexuality in the military.

If a homosexual wants to serve our effort for a safe country, our forces need the help.

On the other hand, if they are joining to make a social statement or invoke Supreme Court hearings, perhaps they should do so in another organization where good men and women will not pay with their blood.

Henry Chan is a graduate student from Hong Kong and the Baylor Army ROTC Battalion Exec. Officer. He is a contributing columnist for The Lariat.