Don't Ask; Don't Tell; Don't Learn
When I joined the Army in 1977, gays were not allowed in the military but sexual harrassment was rampant. Women in Basic Training completed the same requirements as the men in their Company. We lived in separate dorms, but the rigorous physical and firearms training was exactly the same for the women as it was for the men.
However, there was one significant difference: being female meant that we were constant targets of unwanted sexual attention. The form it took varied from snide remarks or taunting to physical forms of abuse. I experienced the former, not the latter, fortunately. Still, just knowing that every day I had to deal with the kind of juvenile sexual attention typically reserved for movies like American Pie was a little disappointing. Particularly, since I was supposedly working with the "creme de la creme" of the military (Signal Corps--top secret facility in West Germany--during the infamous "Cold War.")
Here's a sobering fact: According to NPR, “In 2003, a survey of female veterans found that 30 percent said they were raped in the military. A 2004 study of veterans who were seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder found that 71 percent of the women said they were sexually assaulted or raped while serving. And a 1995 study of female veterans of the Gulf and earlier wars, found that 90 percent had been sexually harassed.” Here's the kicker: the assaults were not perpetrated by the enemy--most of these women were raped by fellow U.S. soldiers.
I left the military in 1981. Recently, I read that about 25% of our female soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq get urinary tract infections because they are afraid to go to the bathroom at night for fear of being raped by fellow soldiers. That is why I'm writing today.
We need a law, not a philosophical debate. We need to make it a violation of the Military Code of Conduct to be involved with ANYBODY'S sexuality unless invited. We need to codify the wrongness of men raping female soldiers as well as force homophobes in the military to keep their judgments against homosexuals to themselves. As long as sex is left where it belongs, both with regard to gays and women, we can work toward a functional military. That would be my holiday wish.