Thursday, October 14, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Closets, Gays and Suicides

Perhaps you've heard about the lawsuit filed in Virginia against the Military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law.  A judge in Virginia, taking up a suit filed by two groups -- the Service Members United and the Log Cabin Democrats -- has ruled it unconstitutional because it infringes on fundamental human rights.  Now, the Obama Administration has decided to appeal it, which might seem like a bad thing for opponents of the law, but I'm not so sure.  I believe that this ruling, like the one striking down Prop 8 in California, need to be heard by the Supreme Court so that there can be no doubt left in the minds of Americans that discrimination against gays by government agencies is contrary to the Constitution.  

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is a policy of the closet.  It is a policy that forces men and women to keep silent about their sexual orientation in order to keep their jobs.  That is a policy encouraging dishonesty, and leaves people open to being exploited.  Ending once and for all discrimination against gays and lesbians in the military is an issue whose time has come.  Americans seem to be more and more accepting of this idea, and besides Americans when they sit down and think things through believe in fairness and equality, even if they might be uncomfortable with homosexuality. 

Closets, which is where we have forced gays and lesbians to live, are dangerous places.  Suicide is the biggest killer of gay teens, in large part because they are forced to live secretive lives, and when they emerge from the closet face tremendous pressure, discrimination, and abuse.  To be discovered -- to be outed -- by others can lead to great fear and humiliation, and as a result the decision to end their lives.  Religious folks, unfortunately, contribute to this climate of fear.  Homosexuals are denounced as sinners and deviants.  Although God many love gays, God hates their sin, and so if they don't repent they'll end up in hell.  It's not a pretty picture.  In mainline Protestant churches, where hell isn't necessarily a topic of conversation, but discomfort with the idea of homosexuality remains ever present, we have adopted the "don't ask, don't tell" principle, and so we force people into the closet.  That closet maybe a good place to pray (for a time), but it is not a good place to live, and so the spiritual lives and callings of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters is undermined.  Indeed, many decide to leave rather than experience the humiliation and the sense of loneliness of the closet.   

We stand at a pivot point in history.  The discussions of "don't ask, don't tell," "gay marriage," and the recent string of suicides, is bringing to our awareness a critical issue.  Polls suggest that people are more and more comfortable with homosexuality -- in part because they're discovering that their neighbors, their relatives, and people in the pew are gay and lesbian.  So, the time is ripe for an open discussion of these issues -- so that the closets can be emptied, people can live without fear of discrimination and humiliation, and people can enjoy the full blessings of life in civil society and in the community of God's people.   

14 comments:

Brian said...

Thank you for your courage. You are right that we practice DADT in the Church. I firmly believe the more light we shine on the subject, the better things will get. Of course, there will be some storms along the way.

Gary said...

The homosexuals, with help from their enablers, have succeeded in making homosexuality largely accepted by the majority, including the apostate "mainline churches".

What they have failed to do is win acceptance from God, and from real Christians. They will continue to fail at that.

Katherine said...

Great post, Bob. Thank you for your wisdom and vision.

John said...

DADT encourages disrespect for rules and for the law, and ultimately to a breakdown in the discipline and effectiveness of the armed services.

While the policy may have made sense when it was adopted, today it is not only pointless, it is a problem. It is time for the policy to be abandoned, as a purely pragmatic measure.

John

David said...
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David said...
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Gary said...

David,

Your daughter is a pervert. And you are encouraging her in that perversion. That isn't love.

David said...
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Brian said...

David - I'm glad your daughter has you for a father.

I'm unclear as to your post directed at me. Sometimes I'm kind of slow. Can you unpack it for me?

I do remember a mistake I made with good intentions. I was a member of a liberal congo. I was passionatly advocating becoming an Open and Affirming congo. What I did not realize was that it was the large community of gay people within our congo that opposed becomin Open and Affirming. A kind lesbian woman pulled me aside and said that they did not want the congo to be known as "the gay church".

This was one of the moments that changed me from presenting myself as a prophetic witness into actually being one....by listening.

Is this kind of what you were talking about?

David said...
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Brian said...

I understand now. Yeah, churches gossip! I suspect some wonder if I'm a closeted gay man because I speak openly about these issues and because I've never married and rarely date. I'm not gay, but it is OK if they think that I am. The honest truth is something that I'm not proud of. I simply have appalling social skills!

David said...
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David said...
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Rial Hamann said...

"The Lord of love has come to me. I want to pass it on"

We all need to learn tolerance, and love, for our fellow and gal human beings, regardless of their ill and well founded fears and beliefs.

"The Lord of love has come to me. I want to pass it on"