Allow homosexuals to serve in military

by Brandon Del Pozo | 11/16/93 6:00am

As I have a habit of bringing to light, the U.S. Army Reserve Officer Training Corps at Dartmouth is in imminent danger of dissolution because in some ways the U.S. Army's policies are not egalitarian, while Dartmouth has made a promise to its students to be an equal-opportunity institution in every respect.

I suspect that many quarters would also like to see the ROTC removed because these days it is not very trendy at all to play with guns for Uncle Sam, but that is a different matter.

Getting back to the former reason, there seems to be apprehension about having gays, lesbians and bisexuals in the military -- so much that they are discriminated against terribly while in the service, causing this terrible mess that has extended here to the College where we have these little debates about whether Dartmouth students should be allowed into the military at all as it is today.

Since my aspiration is to spend a few years as an infantry leader, I have a vested interest in the goings on here at the College and in the Army in general. With this, I have thought about this issue of gays and bisexuals in combat alongside heterosexual men and I have come to a conclusion that does not necessarily represent that of the Army's, but is one that I will rely upon as a future officer.

In the end I care very little about with whom a soldier beds at night, or whether this individual is of the same sex as the soldier.

There are far more pressing questions to ask an infantryman before you can trust him than a crude "Hey buddy, are you a homosexual?" Among these important questions are:

Can you consistently hit a moving target at a hundred meters?

Can you put a grenade on target at 30 meters or so?

How are you with the idea of killing men you feel little animosity towards?

Are you strong enough to carry my wounded body out of the line of fire should I get shot?

People question a homosexual's effect on group integrity. I am just assuming that anyone who can help get his unit home with their mission accomplished and his fellow soldiers alive will be an asset to the group. At least he's welcome to fight by my side.

If we go out Snapple-drinking after a long day's battle, and while some of the men slink off with women, others slink off with men, frankly I don't care: if they can get back in time as per regulations and discharge their duties without fail, then that is the bottom line.

A recurring problem is the stereotype of the gay man as being too limp-wristed and effeminate for something like mortal combat and this must be dispelled. While there are of course many effeminate gays, there are just as many who are not so at all -- who could give a strong man a sound beating. At the same time there are many full-blooded heterosexual males right here at Dartmouth who are too limp-wristed for the rigors of military life.

While I admit I have never seen combat, neither have many of the men who are against gays in the military. More importantly, the men whom I have spoken to who have done time in combat next to gays share my idea that in the end being the victor and being alive are what counts in war, and not who you sleep with for the two seconds a day when you are not busy hiding, shooting or running for your life.

Certainly, the military is America's largest and most effective equal opportunity employer. It constitutes the most powerful arsenal assembled under any government since the beginning of mankind, and for the past several years its supreme commander has been a black man who went through Army ROTC at City College in the Bronx. The chances of General Powell doing this in other sectors of society based on merit alone are considerably smaller -- 40 years ago impossible.

However, there is a glaring inconsistency in this respect when it comes to gays in the military, and largely for knee-jerk, homophobic reasons.

Personally, all I have to say is that as an officer I won't ask or pursue -- it is only asked that each man do his job to the very best of his ability.

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