All who serve our country deserve respect

Freedom New Mexico

The military’s ban on gays ended Wednesday. It will remain legal for military personnel to secretly hate lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgendered people. Any member of the military has a right to believe other members are sinners destined for hell. Thoughts, values, beliefs and sexual proclivities are private matters, belonging to individuals.

That is precisely why we should not have policies that exclude individuals from service to government institutions because of their sexual orientation.

It is not OK for any member of our armed forces to treat another person or group with disrespect. Each has a right to hold disrespect in his or her heart, but not to express or act with disrespect while in service to this country. Unlike the private sector, the military is not an open society. Its members serve and defend all law-abiding Americans and are expected to serve in a diverse group.

It is amazing to almost anyone under age 40 that individuals traditionally have been excluded from military service on the basis of sexual orientation, and more recently have been told by government to conceal their sexual identities. Happily, such strictures are things of the past. Open disrespect, too, should end.

Any great society consists of a tremendous variety of individuals. Not all will love or respect one another. But all, for the sake of progress and peace, should treat one another with respect.

It’s that simple. All concerns about openly homosexual Americans serving alongside openly heterosexual Americans have no merit if military brass demand respect among the ranks. That means no gay jokes, no sexual proselytizing, no harassment.

“It’s all about creating and reinforcing a culture of respect,” Lt. Gen. Michael Gould, superintendent of the Air Force Academy, told The Gazette, the News Journal’s sister newspaper in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Individuals with radical differences don’t need special skills or sensitivity training to live and work together peacefully. None of us needs to change our morals or beliefs. We need only act and communicate with respect. It’s a simple, reasonable and moral expectation. It is an essential ingredient to achieving and maintaining the freedom our military is supposed to protect.