To Jamaicans, who have been called the most homophobic people in the world, the growing acceptance of gays by mainstream America must seem repugnant – or at least odd. But the fact is there’s no other fair way to deal with homosexuality.
Most mainstream scientists now agree that sexual orientation is not a matter of choice. People are born heterosexual or homosexual – or both or neither. They have no say in the matter.
To punish someone because of something Mother Nature decided is just not fair. It’s like penalizing a person for being short. (Remember the fuss about the song, “Short People”?)
And it’s not much better to force them to shut up about it as America’s armed forces do. But this gag order is about to be lifted. In testimony at a recent Congressional hearing, America’s top military man, Adm. Mike Mullen (photo at left), advocated letting gays and lesbians serve openly. Mullen said his experiences over the years have persuaded him that the integrity of these young men and women is damaged when they have to hide their sexual nature. And he added that the integrity of the armed forces is also damaged by the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy now in effect.
Slowly, American politicians are accepting this simple truth. And they’re not leading popular opinion; they’re following the polls.
As New York Times columnist Frank Rich (photo below) explains:
A large majority of voters — between 61 percent and 75 percent depending on the poll — now share his (Mullen’s) point of view. Most Americans recognize that being gay is not a “lifestyle” but an immutable identity, and that outlawing discrimination against gay people who want to serve their country is, as the admiral said, “the right thing to do.”
It is also the most efficient thing to do. America’s military strength is being severely impaired by the loss of gay and lesbian troops being forced out by the policy.
As Rich points out in his column, even the attack dogs of the “conservative” media are quietly accepting that the times they are a-changin’.
He noted that:
The right’s noise machine was on mute. The Fox News report on Mullen’s testimony was fair and balanced — and brief. The network dropped the subject entirely in the Hannity-O’Reilly hothouse of prime time that night. Only ratings-desperate CNN gave a fleeting platform to the old homophobic clichés. Michael O’Hanlon, an “expert” from the Brookings Institution, speculated that “18-year-old, old-fashioned, testosterone-laden” soldiers who are “tough guys” might object to those practicing “alternative forms of lifestyle,” which he apparently views as weak and testosterone-deficient. His only prominent ally was the Family Research Council, which issued an inevitable “action alert” demanding a stop to “the sexualization of our military.”
As America’s understanding of sexuality increases, old prejudices are fading. But there’s a long way to go. Same-sex marriage, which is considered quite acceptable in countries like Canada, is still a hot-button political topic in the U.S., and attempts to legalize such unions in various states have met with fierce resistance.
Meanwhile, in some other societies – Uganda, for one, where politicians are pressing for the death penalty in some cases – homosexuality is regarded as abhorrent. And many Jamaicans share that view. It will be a long time before the enlightenment slowly dawning in America gets to Jamaica.