I've been faced with a very difficult situation and I'm not sure what to do. I'm an executive officer for an army aviation unit in Egypt. As you probably know, DADT (Don't Ask, Don't Tell) was overturned a couple of years ago for the US Armed forces. I was actually a pretty big fan of that decision, because in the past you could receive a separation chapter if enough evidence could be presented that you were homosexual. Now people can do whatever they want, and under Army Command policy no one can flaunt or distract others from work whether it be matters of religion or sexuality be it homosexuality or otherwise. It seems fair and common sense.
Last year President Obama and Secretary Hagel approved the celebration of Gay Pride month by the US Military...but no one really participated. For a better showing, this year they have made it an official EO (Equal Opportunity) annual observance which is mandatory. When I first received the order to plan and prepare for the event, I was still not concerned and even amused and interested. I support Soldiers having different opinions and viewpoints celebrating and participating in things that perhaps I don't agree with, and even was happy to facilitate the event.
I immediately saw that this could be a sensitive issue. As a unit leader my concern was to respect the beliefs of all my Soldiers, including those I disagreed with. Initially I created a plan for my commander which would make the event very neutral and informative, and was really no observance or celebration. Each month we "celebrate" or "observe" something under EO, last month it was Pacific Islander heritage and the month before Woman's day.
My Soldiers developed what I feel, was a far better plan. Soldiers who were gay valiantly stepped forward to support and be involved and other Soldiers who didn't mind supporting the event were happy to participate. The event would be a true celebration for those who wanted to and all Soldiers who held strong moral convictions against homosexuality would not have to attend. It seemed very appropriate and would work for everyone.
Our commanders rejected the decision. I see now that separate, parallel views of homosexuality are not in line with National or Department of Defense policy. I can provide policy information in a separate post. Under the EO observance all Soldiers are expected to participate and fully support the event. Immediately Soldiers brought their concerns to me. My knee-jerk decision (one had to be made) was that I would cover for my Soldiers who would not have to attend, but I would...effectively kicking the can down the road. In other words, that won't work next year.
Although I had agreed to do this the decision still nags at me. In all honesty, this is one of a few beliefs that I hadn't thoroughly explored. So many people I know, where I am from, can be "opposed" to homosexuality or LGBT community and culture because it is convenient for them and the cool thing to do. It is a very cheaply earned belief. Because I can't say I've done any better, despite my involvement in the LGBT community in the past I simply put it in the realm of the unknown and far less important. But now I have to make a decision. As my wife said, no decision is still a decision. I just want to know what the right thing to do is.
This isn't something light, military policy and the uniform code of military justice strictly requires Soldiers to promptly and thoroughly obey the orders they are given. This is a legal order because the laws are in place, whether I agree or not, I can go to jail if I disobey. But is it a moral order? I don't want to rabble rouse or be vindictive or act on my feelings. If I do have to disobey it will be in the most professional way that I can, finding the best way I can love and support my commander and leadership no matter how I feel about their decisions, hopefully just a discrete non-showing while ensuring my Soldiers this year don't have to attend despite the policy.
Already one of our Soldiers has had his career threatened. All of these events involve a benediction. When they asked the Chaplain to give a benediction he courteously informed the commander that he could not, nor could he attend or support the event at all. As all professional officers do he showed that he was bound to an endorsing religious agency which could not endorse homosexuality and gave the commander some alternatives, he didn't just refuse (that's not professional). Now he is being threatened with a discharge.
I don't want to turn this into an internet rage-fest so I knew that the CGC community is ideally suited to analyze this difficult issue and present what is probably the most thoughtful and biblical solution. You guys are my A-team for advice. Any thoughts are welcome, you may reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to send a private message.