If the world is ever to exist in harmonious accord, then there are several qualities that individuals must adopt as part of their everyday conduct. Of these, tolerance is perhaps the most significant, as it is only through the acceptance of different lifestyle choices and cultures that we may all subsist within a single space or time. This theory applies to every diverse aspect of life and living, from religious beliefs and creed to the less fundamental aspects of sexual orientation and nurtured principles.
Gay Rights in the Military
In order to encourage tolerance amongst civilian sections of society, the leading institutions and organizations of a country must be required to lead by example, and promote the virtues of acceptance and understanding. To this end, any government or public sector organization and military faction must take great care to treat their representatives as equal individuals, and not discriminate against any specific race or lifestyle choice.
However, the military in the US has always had a chequered history when it comes to enforcing the principles of equality, especially with regards to their representatives sexuality and sexual preferences. Until recently, the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ (DADT) legislation was prominent in the United States, and its essence prevented any military representative from disclosing their sexual orientation or displaying any overt inclination towards homosexual activity. In addition, it prevented any senior officers or contemporaries from making enquires as to a fellow soldiers sexuality.
The US military have always suggested that the reasoning for this was based on the morale and cohesion of each unit, and that the presence of a homosexual individual would disturb this balance and cause division within a team. Subsequently, any individual found to be guilty of displaying homosexual tendencies or engaging in affiliated acts would be discharged from service, unless such a course of action was deemed to be opposed to the best interests of the military.
A Change in the Social Climate
This week however, an administrative panel in California struck a blow for gay rights when they recommended that an openly homosexual sailor be allowed to continue to serve in the military. The case, involving Petty Officer Derek Morado, was referred after the officer in question was reported by a colleague who saw images of him engaging in sexual conduct with another male. Facing dismissal from his duties, the ruling comes on the back of the initial discussion to repeal the DADT law which took place in 2010.
Despite this, gay rights supporters believe that this is the first instance of its type where the discharge was discontinued, and the recommendation was made for the officer to continue to serve. While this can hardly be described as the reflection of a changing social climate (which has long since been accepting of homosexuality and equality amongst those who practice it), it is more a long overdue modification of military practice to ensure that it considers homosexual representatives as equal and valued servants.
Far from being merely a victory for gay rights, this judgement will have positive connotations for society as a whole, and draws a closer bind around the individuals of society and their interaction. Through a simple process of changing some archaic legislation and applying empathy and tolerance to diverse personal circumstances, the law makers of the US have taken huge strides to positively represent equality and share these values with the society that they seek to protect. If law was to exist for one purpose only, it would be to set an example and template for how its followers should act.
Maintaining Domestic Harmony
In an age where global conflicts are being fought across various media outlets and entities, it is strange that organizations should seek to discriminate against their own representatives who have sought to fight for their country. This kind of socially divisive and destructive ethos is entirely at odds with what the military stands for, and has potentially denied the US the services of many talented and dedicated individuals over the previous decades.
It must be hoped that the judgement in this case sets a precedent for future instances, and that it is not merely an isolated or singular consequence of particular circumstance. If it is the former, then the US will have moved ever closer towards a social harmony, and will mean that its military bodies are finally providing an unswerving support for the principles of tolerance. For any democratic country to prosper, the military must reflect its specific and empathetic values, in order that it can defend a nations boundaries in addition to its principles of rule.