Miriam Mannak
Miriam Mannak

Once upon a time there was a gay American soldier…

The United States of America is one helluva weird country. On the one hand, the land of the free and home of the brave claims to be the world’s biggest, bestest democracy. Indeed, it has a crispy clean Bill of Rights and on paper everyone is equal. In practice, however, things are a wee different. Take the social position of gays.

Only in a handful of US states are lesbiennes and homosexual men allowed to officially tie the knot and while heterosexual Americans who want to join the army are allowed to brag about their spouse, boyfriends and girlfriends, their homosexual counterparts up until very recently were ordered — by law, nogal — to shut the hell up.

South Africa, a country with a bad reputation for various reasons, in that respect could be an example to the US. In SA, gay marriage is legal and gays can freely join the army without legal restrictions. I am just saying. That does not mean I am not seeing the problems this country is facing with regards to homosexuality, such as the gay women that have been subjected to corrective rape and even murder. This country has a long way to go before homosexuality is regarded as normal as buying a ham sandwich. SA is, however, advanced in some areas.

Back to the US of A. Finally some hotshots seemed to have woken up from the 19th century: yesterday US District Court Judge Virginia Phillips ordered the military to accept men and women who are openly gay within their ranks. Finally.

Of course, as always, there is some kind of a catch and that is that the scrapping of the “don’t tell, don’t ask” policy — implemented by the administration of Bill “I did not have sex with that woman” Clinton — could be overturned in the near future. Why? Because The Pentagon is decidedly in favour of this particular law and has toddled off to the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in an attempt to block Phillips’ order.

I just wonder why it is so bad to have gays in the armed forces. Is a gay man not manly enough? Is a gay woman to manly? Why have the American authorities such a problem with homosexuality? Well, according to the Pentagon “an abrupt change in ‘don’t tell, don’t ask’ policy would hamper the military”. Err, in what way I am wondering. What makes a gay soldier different from his or her heterosexual counterparts? If you decide you want to protect your country from whatever threat, it does not matter what race you are, what the colour of your skin is, what religion you have or whether you have a penis or va-jay-jay. So why would people be bothered with whether you’d prefer a man or woman in your bed? As long as you are able to do your job, defend your country and protect your fellow colleagues. Right?