I am an active-duty U.S. Marine Corps infantry officer. I have deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan and have commanded infantry Marines in combat.
On Tuesday, Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, said he believes repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” and allowing gay and lesbian Marines to serve openly could “cost Marines’ lives” because of the “mistakes and inattention or distractions” that might ensue. I am not homosexual. And in this instance, I must respectfully disagree with my commandant.
The commandant cites the importance of cohesion within small combat units and warns against its disruption by allowing homosexuals to stop concealing their identities. In my experience, the things that separate Marines in civilian life fade into obscurity on the battlefield. There, only one thing matters: Can you do your job? People care much more about whom you voted for or what city you’re from while on the huge airbase with five Burger Kings, or back in the States, than they do when they’re walking down a dusty road full of improvised explosive devices in Haditha or Sangin.
In the end, Marines in combat will treat sexual orientation the same way they treat race, religion and one’s stance on the likelihood of the Patriots winning another Super Bowl. I do not believe the intense desire we all feel as Marines to accomplish the mission and protect each other will be affected in the slightest by knowing the sexual orientation of the man or woman next to us.
In the recent Defense Department survey, 58 percent of combat arms Marines said they felt allowing homosexuals to serve openly would negatively affect their unit, but 84 percent of combat arms Marines who had served with a homosexual said that there would be no effect or that the effect would be positive. It seems obvious that if allowing homosexuals to serve openly degraded performance, rather than improved it, a majority of Marines who had served with homosexuals would oppose repeal. Yet this is not the case, and homosexuals serve openly in the militaries of Britain, Canada, Australia, Israel and others with no ill effect. This suggests that much of the opposition toward repeal within the Marine Corps is based on the politics of individual Marines and not any measurable military effect.
Repeal would undoubtedly produce some disruption, but if other nations’ experiences are any guide, it will be so minimal as to be essentially nonexistent. Consider what is likely to happen if and when “don’t ask” is repealed: Lance Cpl. Smith will be having a typical Marine conversation with Lance Cpl. Jones, and the topic will turn to women. Smith will remark on how much he enjoys their company. Jones will reply: “Actually, man, I like dudes.”
Jones: “Yeah, man, really.”
Smith: “Wow. I didn’t know that.”
Both will then go back to cleaning their rifles.
Is it really likely that lance corporals who know each other better than brothers, and may have saved each other’s lives in split-second reactions during deployments, are suddenly going to refuse to serve in the same unit or quit the Corps because they have to share a shower?
Repeal will of course have many effects. Gay and lesbian Marines who are now barred from discussing their identities honestly with their superiors, peers and subordinates would be able to do their jobs free from the nagging knowledge that they are being less than honest with their brothers and sisters in arms. It is difficult to see how this could do anything but improve their job performance. Gay and lesbian Marines have long fought and died for a country that refuses to acknowledge their existence. Some are certainly among the Marines who have passed through Bethesda Naval Hospital and rest in Arlington.
I believe the reluctance many Marines feel about repeal is based on the false stereotype, borne out of ignorance, that homosexuals don’t do things like pull other Marines from burning vehicles. The truth is, they do it all the time. We simply don’t know it because they can’t tell us.
It is time for “don’t ask, don’t tell” to join our other mistakes in the dog-eared chapters of history textbooks. We all bleed red, we all love our country, we are all Marines. In the end, that’s all that matters.
The writer is an infantry captain in the Marine Corps.
Homosexuality In Leviticus
By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson
The Washington Post
December 7, 2010; 10:02 AM ET
This is the second in a series of articles examining the Biblical bases for opposition to homosexuality by The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire and visiting Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, Washington, DC.
First, and most famous, of the scriptural texts used to condemn homosexuality are the two references in the Holiness Codes of Leviticus: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” (Lev. 18:22) and “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.” (Lev. 20:13)
The context of these two passages are the holiness and purity codes set down for the people of Israel – rules set forth both to define what was clean and unclean before God, as well as what set the Hebrew people apart from their heathen neighbors who worshiped gods other than the one true God. In a memorable speech on homosexuality at Trinity College in 1992, The Rev. Dr. Frank G. Kirkpatrick put the biblical code in context: This “purity code assumes a ‘normal’ or natural state for things, any deviance from which is abnormal, deviant, and therefore unclean, impure, and polluting. Menstruation is not ‘normal’ for women (since it occurs less frequently than periods of non-menstruation): therefore when women are menstruating they are regarded as unclean. Blemishes [including blindness and lameness] are abnormal, therefore unclean.”
Kirkpatrick further explained: “Men who act like women are abnormal, therefore unclean. Now the assumption here is that to be a man is to desire women. Anything else is acting against one’s nature. Thus when a man lies with another man he is acting contrary to his own nature. It was inconceivable in this context that a man could be genetically or biologically predisposed to desire other men. To be engaged in homosexual activity therefore was to do what one was literally not inclined or predisposed to do. Thus it was acting against one’s own conscience and predispositions. This is what made it unnatural and therefore a violation of nature.”
This is an important point, difficult for the modern day mind to grasp: homosexuality as a sexual orientation was unknown to the ancient mind. Same gender, intimate physical contact was not unknown, of course, but everyone was presumed to be heterosexual. In his book Embodiment, An Approach to Sexuality and Christian Theology, James B. Nelson wrote, “It is crucial to remember this, for in all probability the biblical writers in each instance were speaking of homosexual acts undertaken by person whom the authors presumed to be heterosexually constituted.” Therefore, any man who lay with another man as with a woman was considered to be a heterosexual man acting against his true nature.
The psychological construct of a homosexual orientation was not posited until the late 18th century – the notion that a certain minority of humankind is affectionally oriented toward people of the same gender, rather than the opposite gender. For people so oriented, intimate physical contact with people of the opposite gender would be “against their nature.” Such a possibility was unknown to the ancient mind. And so, these verses from the Leviticus Holiness Code must be read in the context of the assumption that everyone was heterosexual by nature, and acting contrary to that was not “normal,” and outside the will of the Creator.
In practice, we modern day Christians have regarded most of the injunctions in the Holiness Codes of Leviticus and Deuteronomy as culturally bound to the ancient times of the Hebrews–but not binding on us. These same purity codes forbid eating shellfish, planting a field with two different kinds of seed or wearing simultaneously two kinds of cloth. They would prohibit us from ordaining to the priesthood any handicapped person – not to mention women. We cannot, then, isolate these passages about homosexual acts and impute to them the kind of enduring authority which we ascribe to nothing before or after these passages. One has to wonder why the biblical literalists who cite this passage against homosexuality don’t seem to go all the way and advocate for death as the punishment for homosexual behavior! We cannot have it both ways.
One other guiding principle in these codes which I presume most modern day Christians and Jews would not espouse is the bias against women. Women are generally regarded as problematic, less worthy, and more unclean than men. A man who had a discharge of semen was ritually unclean until sunset, but a woman who menstruates was unclean for a week. When a woman gave birth to a boy, she was unclean for a week – but when she gave birth to a girl, she was unclean for twice as long! I would maintain that part of what made the sin of a man lying, as Nelson wrote, “with a male as with a woman” so abominable, was the scandal of the noble, privileged, favored male of the species giving up that privilege to take on the role of the less clean, less noble, certainly less privileged female. Indeed it is not extraneous to note that during wartime, a common practice in the ancient Middle East was “the submission of captured male foes to anal rape. It was an expression of domination and contempt, a powerful symbol of scorn in societies where the dignity of the male was held in high esteem. Here a man was using another man as he might use a woman.” Nothing could be worse. So in this context, these injunctions are not surprising.
Finally, there is the context of the “science” of conception of that time. Male sperm was thought to contain all things necessary for procreation. Women contributed nothing but a place for the nascent life to incubate. Therefore, the “spilling of seed” (male sperm) on the ground was a kind of abortion, the killing of life. This “scientific” understanding led to other proscriptions in the Holiness Code. Male masturbation is condemned. And the so-called “sin of Onan” was also condemned. Onan was a heterosexual man who withdrew from intercourse with his wife before ejaculation, spilling his seed on the ground instead of depositing it in his wife’s womb. And God strikes him dead.
Add to this the ancient Israelites’ need to grow the population. Upon their return from slavery in Egypt, they were surrounded by hostile cultures, eager to destroy the invaders who had returned to their “Promised Land.” The Israelite nation needed to populate themselves in order to withstand the challenge to their presence. For a man to spill his seed on the ground rather than grow more babies was not only a sin against God, but against the nation!
Oddly enough, we have relaxed these “rules” against a man “spilling his seed” through masturbation and birth control, yet we hold onto “a man shall not lie with another man as with a woman” as if it were eternally binding on believers. Such an inconsistency simply does not make sense.
Given these changes in our modern understandings and contexts, it is no longer appropriate for us to condemn men who have intimate sexual relationships with other men based on this proscription in the Leviticus Holiness Code. Either all of these proscriptions must be tossed out as binding on us, or they all must be adhered to. Biblical “literalists” cannot have it both ways, picking and choosing which proscriptions are still appropriate.
The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson is the IX Bishop of New Hampshire, in the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, and a visiting Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, Washington, D.C.
By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson
5 Myths About Gay People Debunked
Taken From LiveScience com
Animals Are All Straight
Male courtships are frequent amongst these long-necked mammals. Often a male will start necking with another before proceeding to mount him. This affectionate play can take up to an hour. According to one study, one in every 20 male giraffes will be found necking with another male at any instant. In many cases, homosexual activity is said to be more common than heterosexual.
Despite a popular perception that male-female pairings are the only “natural” way, the animal kingdom is actually full of examples of same-sex couples. Penguins, dolphins, bison, swans, giraffes and chimpanzees are just a few of the many species that sometimes pair up with same-sex partners.
Researchers are still mulling over the evolutionary reason, if any, for gay animal sex, since it doesn’t produce offspring. Some ideas are that it helps strengthen social bonds or encourages some individuals to focus their resources on nurturing their nieces and nephews, thus boosting their own genes indirectly.
Or, it may simply be fun. “Not every sexual act has a reproductive function,” said Janet Mann, a biologist at Georgetown University.
Gay Relationships Don’t Last
Another stereotype is that gay relationships aren’t as real or long-lasting as heterosexual ones.
Research has found that to be untrue. Long-term studies of gay couples indicate that their relationships are just as stable as straight pairings.
“There is considerable evidence that both lesbians and gay men want to be in strong, committed relationships [and] are successful in creating these partnerships, despite difficulties created by social prejudice, stigma, and the lack of legal recognition for same-sex relationships in most parts of the U.S.,” said UCLA psychologist Anne Peplau, co-author of a book chapter on the subject published in the 2007 Annual Review of Psychology.
For example, John Gottman, a University of Washington emeritus professor of psychology, and his colleagues collected data from homosexual couples across 12 years, and found that about 20 percent had broken up over that time. That rate projected over a 40-year period is slightly lower than the divorce rate for first marriages among heterosexual couples over the same time span, according to the study published in 2003 in the Journal of Homosexuality.
“The overall implication of this research is that we have to shake off all of the stereotypes of homosexual relationships and have more respect for them as committed relationships,” Gottman said.
In fact, the same study found that gay couples tend to be better at resolving conflicts and encouraging positive emotions.
Most Pedophiles Are Gay
An especially pernicious myth is that most adults who sexually abuse children are gay. A number of researchers have looked at this question to determine if homosexuals are more likely to be pedophiles than heterosexuals, and the data indicate that’s not the case.
For example, in a 1989 study led by Kurt Freund of the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Canada, scientists showed pictures of children to adult gay and straight males, and measured sexual arousal. Homosexual men reacted no more strongly to pictures of male children than heterosexual men reacted to pictures of female children.
A 1994 study, led by Carole Jenny of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, surveyed 269 cases of children who were sexually molested by adults. In 82 percent of cases, the alleged offender was a heterosexual partner of a close relative of the child, the researchers reported in the journal Pediatrics. In only two out of 269 cases, the offender was identified as being gay or lesbian.
“The empirical research does not show that gay or bisexual men are any more likely than heterosexual men to molest children,” wrote Gregory M. Herek, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis, on his Web site. Herek, who was not involved in the 1989 or 1994 studies, compiled a review of research on the topic.
Gay Parents Aren’t As Good As A Father And Mother
Many of those who oppose gay marriage and gay adoption charge that same-sex parents aren’t good for kids, and that a child needs both a father and a mother to grow up to be a healthy adult. Research, however, shows that children of gay parents tend to fare just fine.
For example, one recent study looked at nearly 90 teens, half living with female same-sex couples and the others with heterosexual couples, showing that both groups fared similarly in school. Teen boys in same-sex households had grade point averages of about 2.9, compared with 2.65 for their counterparts in heterosexual homes. Teen girls showed similar results, with a 2.8 for same-sex households and 2.9 for girls in heterosexual families.
Another study found that kids with two moms or two dads were no more likely than their counterparts in “traditional” homes to engage in delinquent activities, such as damaging others’ property, shoplifting and getting into fights.
“The bottom line is that the science shows that children raised by two same-gender parents do as well on average as children raised by two different-gender parents,” said Timothy Biblarz, a sociologist at the University of Southern California. “This is obviously inconsistent with the widespread claim that children must be raised by a mother and a father to do well.”
Both studies were described in a literature review paper published in February 2010 in the Journal of Marriage and Family.
Being Gay Is A Choice
The mystery DNA spippets are about 300 times less likely than other regions of the genome to be lost during the course of mammalian evolution.
While some claim that being gay is a choice, or that homosexuality can be cured, evidence is mounting that same-sex attraction is at least partly genetic and biologically based.
To test whether genes play a role, researchers have compared identical twins (in which all genes are shared) to fraternal twins (in which about 50 percent of genes are shared). A 2001 review of such twin studies reported that almost all found identical twins were significantly more likely to share a sexual orientation – that is, to be either both gay, or both straight – than fraternal twins, who are less genetically close. Such findings indicate that genes do factor into a person’s orientation.
Other studies have found that biological effects, such as hormone exposure in the womb, can also play a role in shaping sexual orientation. And findings of physiological differences, such as different inner ear shapes between homosexual and heterosexual women, contribute to this idea.
“The results support the theory that differences in the central nervous system exist between homosexual and heterosexual individuals and that the differences are possibly related to early factors in brain development,” said Sandra Witelson of McMaster University in Ontario, an author on the 1998 inner ear finding published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.