In the law, there is a saying: Hard cases make bad law. The idea is that changing the rules for everybody in response to a particularly sympathetic case is often a bad idea.
Still, I’d be surprised if this didn’t bother you:
WASHINGTON – An Army sergeant who was wounded in Iraq wants a chance to remain in the military as an openly gay soldier, a desire that’s bringing him into conflict with the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
Sgt. Robert Stout, 23, says he has not encountered trouble from fellow soldiers and would like to stay if not for the policy that permits gay men and women to serve only if they keep their sexual orientation a secret.
“I know a ton of gay men that would be more than willing to stay in the Army if they could just be open,” Stout said in an interview with The Associated Press. “But if we have to stay here and hide our lives all the time, it’s just not worth it.”
Stout, of Utica, Ohio, was awarded the Purple Heart after a grenade sent pieces of shrapnel into his arm, face and legs while he was operating a machine gun on an armored Humvee last May.
It seems bizarre to me that we would bar such a war hero from continuing to serve — which he wants to do — simply because he is openly gay.
I understand the arguments against homosexuals in the military: it could harm morale for people forced into close contact with one another. But the story says: “At least 24 countries, including Great Britain, Germany, France, Australia, Canada and Israel, allow gays to serve openly.” Israel seems to do pretty well with its military. I would think that, if Israel can handle openly gay people in its military, we should be able to handle them as well.
Polls still show that a majority of military personnel are opposed to gays serving openly. But I question the importance of excluding people who are willing to serve their country, and be wounded or killed if necessary, over an issue like this. Perhaps the poll numbers would change if the policy were to change.
I am particularly interested to hear what any current or former military people say about this.
(Thanks to the Al Rantel radio program, which brought this to my attention last night.)