I Won’t Ask And Please Don’t Tell

February 4, 2010Raynard JacksonLast week in the president’s State of the Union address, Obama reiterated his support for the total repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. This policy allows gays, lesbians and bisexuals to serve in the military as long as they don’t reveal their sexual preferences.Earlier this week the U.S. Senate held hearings on the issue. Secretary of Defense, Bob Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen both supported its repeal. Me and my gay friends have debated this issue for years and my position is still the same, “I won’t ask what your sexual preference is and please don’t tell me what it is.”The gay rights movement has less to do with equal rights and more to do with acceptance of the gay lifestyle. As a U.S. citizen (and as a person), gays are already offered all sorts of protections based on existing law. That’s what the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are all about. Then, there is another set of protections based on state law.The one question none of my gay friends have ever been able to satisfactorily answer for me is why I (or the public) need to know what their sexual preference is. I like women. Strike that. I love women, but when I meet people in a social setting or in the workplace environment, I don’t think my sexual preference is relevant at all. As a matter of fact, one’s sexual preference is strictly a private matter and has absolutely no place in the public square.As a heterosexual, if I talked about my sexual preference in the workplace, I could easily be reprimanded and accused of sexual harassment simply because this is a private matter and is not relevant to me performing my job. This is where my gay friends lose me—on the issue of why I need to know who they prefer to have sex with.In my view, if the issue was about equality, then they are already protected. But, their real issue is to have their personal lifestyle choices accepted. The ultimate measure of acceptance is to have their lifestyle choices codified by law. This is their ultimate goal!This is part of the problem with our current society. Everyone wants to have rights codified into law based strictly on their narrow interests. Everyone talks about what their rights are, but no one talks about what their responsibilities are. Rights are a direct derivative of accepting responsibility for the privilege of having these rights.I don’t have to support a person’s personal lifestyle choices in order to support their right to equality under the law. Friends of mine who use drugs (cocaine, marijuana, etc.) know that I definitely do not agree with their choices, nor do I need to know when they are going to engage in such activity. Their lifestyle choices doesn’t affect our friendship, even though in some cases it might limit it.The gay community’s only goal is to have their personal lifestyle choices validated with the force of law. I don’t care what a person does in their private life, as long as it doesn’t impact others. I don’ understand why people insist on the public knowing the most intimate of all their personal life’s details.When I walk into a room, there is no doubt as to my race. I was born this way and God did not seek my advice when he decided to create me. Unlike me and my race, one is not born gay. They make a choice to engage in a certain lifestyle. They have every right to do so.Some people walk into a room and you know immediately that they are gay (not all, but many). Even if they make it quite obvious that they are gay, this is not grounds to discriminate against them. I will fight to the death to defend my gay friends from this type of treatment. But, they also have to realize that our country is not perfect and with choices come consequences.For example, there are certain upper class circles that I, as a Black man, would never take a white female to and make it obvious that we are romantically involved. Should I be able to date a white female without having to consider any negative fallout, of course; but the reality of the situation is that even in the 21st century, interracial dating is still taboo in a lot of quarters in this country. Do I have a right to date whoever I want? Yes. But, if I chose to exercise this right, I must also be willing to accept the fact that not all Americans will accept my personal lifestyle choice.So, using the model of my gay friends, I should seek a federal law to protect interracial couples. I wasn’t born to date outside of my race; it would be a choice I made. So, just because I made certain personal lifestyle choices, doesn’t mean I should be afforded a special law to codify that choice.To my gay friends, if the goal of the movement is equality; please tell me specifically how current law doesn’t protect you as a U.S. citizen from discrimination. The issue of having gay marriage recognized is about acceptance, not equality. As a U.S. citizen, you are already protected from discrimination, harassment, and assault.Therefore, to all my gay friends, let’s make a deal. I won’t ask you about your personal lifestyle choices and please don’t tell me!Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm. He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine (
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  • NYMetro
    I couldn't agree with you more...but they are saying that people's attitudes and circumstances have changed so much that they need to have these provisions (if you will) in place for them even before they get there.
    Kinda like affirmative action or something.....
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