Remove the Barriers

President Barack Obama called for the ending of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the military during his State of the Union address. I believe that this will happen … sometime. I hope it’s soon.
Each year on Veterans Day Sunday, I ask the members of our congregation who have served in the military to stand. Most of our members identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, so it is always interesting to me to see how many in the congregation stand up.
Last year it was about 40 people. We give them a round of applause to thank them for serving their country, and I always make this statement: “These people who are standing prove that all of us who want to serve our country should be able to do so with dignity and honor — just like they already have.”
I find it amazing that even now, we are still having this discussion. I know the military is a difficult organization to change, but even Gen. David Petraeus said that he had served with someone who was gay and had absolutely no problem doing so.
The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy reminds me of when I felt called to be a minister. I was begged to stay in my denomination and help change it before I came to Metropolitan Community Church.
But my answer was always the same. I didn’t want to have to spend my time justifying my validity to minister — I just wanted to be able to help people who needed help. It seemed to me that other people were making the same choice that I made. When people choose to avoid a job or to place one’s energy elsewhere, institutions that need high-quality people are drained of their talent, whether the institution is a church or an army.

Other countries for years have proven that armies can accommodate people of different genders and orientations. Canada hasn’t fallen apart since gay marriage was allowed. Canada has had LGBT people serving openly in their military for years now. Why is this easier for Canada than it is for us? Are they that much more intelligent or more advanced?
Barriers to whole groups of people should be removed from places where the people’s talents would be needed and welcomed. Injustice for one is injustice for all.
The Rev. Kurt Krieger is the pastor of Spirit of Hope Metropolitan Community Church in Kansas City, Mo.

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