As chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Peter Pace is the highest ranking military man in the US. He recently made the statement, "I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts." This made me realize that most of the gay men I know have served in the military, so maybe Pace needs to take another look at the men he is supposed to be leading. Keep reading for a wise UPDATE from a national news magazine...and ANOTHER update straight from the Bible!
UPDATE: In the March 30 issue of "The Week" magazine, William Falk writes, "Let's say, for the sake of argument, that I'm a devout believer who happens to be the head of the US armed forces. I let it be publicly known that my religion teaches that women are subservient to men, and blacks are inferior to whites, and thus, that neither group should hold officers' ranks. That, in essence, is the argument being made in defense of Gen. Peter Pace."
UPDATE: I was paging through the gospel of Matthew, looking for a particular verse, when I came upon this one in Matthew 19. Like all the Bible references in my diaries, this one comes from The Unvarnished New Testament. This is right after Jesus talks about how people shouldn't get divorced, which makes one of his "students" (usually translated as "disciples") say, "If the guilt of a man with a woman is so great, it doesn't pay to get married."
"And he said to them, 'Not all have room for this idea, it has to be given to you: but some eunuchs were born that way from their mothers' bellies, and some eunuchs were made that way by others, and some make themselves that way for the kingdom of the skies. Whoever can encompass it, let them do so.'"
Obviously Gen. Pace is having trouble "encompassing" the idea that homosexuality is genetic, just like race or gender. The whole controversy is ridiculous, anyway: one of my gay friends was even a drill sergeant at Parris Island in South Carolina! As you probably know from movies (if not from your own experience), the drill sergeant is the tough guy who puts recruits through their paces in Basic Training, often by insulting them and shouting epithets at them. The idea is to toughen them up before they're sent out to risk their lives, so that they will be more likely to return alive.
Another gay buddy is a long-time partner with a man who is ALSO ex-military. This boyfriend looks more like a truck driver than your stereotypical gay man. My buddy says, "Everybody in the Navy knew I was gay and nobody cared."
Gayness in the military is nothing new. I remember a story I once heard from a Jewish man whose father was in Nazi- occupied France during the second World War. His father was a member of the underground Resistance, and when it looked like he might be captured, he joined the French Foreign Legion?something many Jews did in order to escape being sent to a concentration camp. The son characterized it as "a bunch of Jewish intellectuals marching around in the desert."
He related a story his father had told him: The head of the Legion where his father was stationed was an openly gay man, and one of the Legionnaires derided him for it. When they were all lined up at attention, the gay officer calmly walked up to the insulting recruit and?bit off his nose! I assume no one ever dared to make fun of him again.
The Bible verse that is causing all this ruckus is Leviticus 18: "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable." What most of these critics don't notice is that, in the next breath (in Leviticus 19), the same writer also says, "Do not wear clothing worn of two kinds of material." So anyone wearing wash-and-wear clothing (which usually contains polyester mixed in with the cotton) is obviously taking the low road, along with the gay guys. I assume Mrs. Pace must do a lot of ironing.
Despite their recent persecution by a dogmatically religious government, gays can still be as patriotic as anyone else. I know a gay physician whose partner (they've been together 12 years) is a French national. The French have been so critical of the US in recent years that you wouldn't think any of them would want to become a US citizen, but that's exactly what this man did. My doctor friend described being so moved by the ceremony that he shed tears. Imagine: A gay man who constantly receives criticism and derision about his sexuality from our government but who, despite all this, still wants to be a member of our team!
You know, we could use more guys like that in the military.
NOTE: This Diary entry, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.