Congress should legislate evenly

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The issue of homosexuality being tolerated in the U.S. military is again a point of discussion.

The topic arises occasionally, but despite gains for homosexuals in the private sector, the military still does not allow active-duty personnel to acknowledge if they are gay.

The issue is again in the news because of Army Sgt. Darren Manzella, who is making it perfectly clear — in a public fashion — that he is a homosexual.

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Manzella is a medic who has served in Kuwait and Iraq and makes no apologies for his homosexuality.

“This is who I am. This is my life,” Manzella told the Associated Press. “It has never affected my job performance before. I don’t think it will make a difference now. And to be honest, since then I don’t see a difference because of my homosexuality.”

Making the issue more interesting, a bill to eliminate the policy — sponsored by Rep. Ellen Tauscher of California — is pending. It would be a surprise to see the bill gain any sort of significant movement in an election year.

Even though hearings are a possibility, it is unfortunate Congress will not move forward and eliminate the outdated and ineffective policy.

Because, frankly, when deciding who the most qualified personnel are to defend the country, the last thing on everyone’s mind should be their sexual preference. Ask a soldier whose life has been saved by another soldier if they care whether that person is gay. We suspect they would not.

Regardless of anyone’s point of view on homosexuality, there should be an acknowledgement that it is hypocritical for the United States Congress to pass laws forbidding discrimination in the private sector against gays, only to allow it to flourish in its own military.

This is neither an endorsement nor an admonishment of homosexuality because that is a personal choice, but it is rather a call for consistency in how Congress applies the law of the land. For representatives to champion equality in the workplace only to keep it from those who put their lives on the line is inherently hypocritical and fundamentally unfair.