Samantha K. Michigan

LGBT People in the Military

Laws should be changed so LGBT soldiers are not discriminated against.

Dear Future President,

I believe that gay people should continue to be allowed in the military and laws should be changed so LGBT soldiers do not face discrimination. In the year 1941, gay people were explicitly banned from serving as military soldiers. If a man was found to be homosexual, he was discharged and was denied some of the rights that other veterans received. Leonard Matlovich, a gay Vietnam War veteran, famously quotes on his tombstone, “They gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”

In 1993, this ban was repealed by President Bill Clinton. He instituted the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, which lifted the ban but still meant that homosexuals could not be open about their identities. Gay military personnel could still be discharged for refusing to hide their sexuality. In 2008, more than 12,000 officers were discharged from the military due to their sexual orientation. In 2010, after much debate, President Obama finally signed legislation to formally end the policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” However, LGBT service members are still not a protected class under the military’s Equal Opportunity policy, therefore they are not protected from discrimination.

There is no real reason for being against allowing LGBT people the same rights as other soldiers. The only excuse roots back to general homophobia, a problem that can easily be seen in our society. People are misinformed and out of fear, believe that gay people will act differently towards their comrades or may be weaker in battle. However, this is just a false stereotype. Veteran Leo N. Miletich says, “Statistics say that I probably lived and worked with at least a dozen or so homosexuals during those three years of barracks life. I wouldn't know.” As shown in research and personal experience of veterans, “sexual orientation has not been shown to negatively affect a soldier’s performance.” There is no proof that gay people being allowed in the military is a negative practice.

This is not just a matter of ethics. Politically, LGBT people are important to the size of our military. There are about 66,000 gay, lesbian, and bisexual people serving in the US military. 66,000 citizens that are willing to fight for our country, regardless of their sexual orientation. That is a great contribution to our military and those people are just as courageous as other military personnel, and should be regarded as such. Gay people work just as hard as hetereosexuals and deserve the same treatment and recognition.

It is time to stop fearmongering over gay people being allowed in the military. It is fantastic that they can finally serve while being open about their identity, but the debate is not over. LGBT people need to be included in the Equal Opportunity policy and they need to be protected from discrimination, just like every other soldier. Gay people are the same as everyone else and deserved to be treated as such, in everyday life and in our nation’s military.

"Gays in the Military." Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2015. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.

Miletich, Leo N. "Sweet land of libertines? Fearmongering over gays in the military." The Humanist May-June 1993: 23+. Student Edition. Web. 18 Oct. 2016 

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