There are several things to look at here. First of all there are the rights, duties, and obligations of any citizen. Male, female, black, white, or whatever. The fact is that a citizen is a citizen. So, on that level there should be no problem with any mentally sound and physically qualified citizen voluntarily serving.There is another level to this. The practical fact is that there is a great spectrum of people in the military. Many of these people will have no particular problem with people who have some differences. But there are those who do.
When I was brought home from the hospital shortly after birth the first music I ever heard was Mozart’s wonderful opera The Magic Flute. I learned to love classical music, opera, and Baroque – “Ah, Bach” – Radar O’Reilly.
When I was maybe 8 or 9 I discovered my mother’s 30’s and 40’s big band records – old 78 rpm stuff. By the time I was 10 I had discovered jazz at the local library. Jazz from the earliest New Orleans, Memphis, and Chicago. Boogie. Big band. Modern jazz. Loved it all. The library also had the wonderful Folkways series. I learned to love all kinds of real folk music: Andean Indian flute music, Russian Balalaika, African drum chorus, Japanese Taiko drums, wonderful stuff all. (This does all tie in).
In the 8th grade we baby-boomers had an overflow class at one of the local grammar schools since we had overloaded the local high school. Therefore the 9th grade was the first time I was actually on the public high school property and had been exposed to older teen types. One day toward the beginning of the school year I was in the band room and one of the older types was going on about the Beatles coming to this country for the first time. You can figure the year from that. Anyway, somehow I got asked about the Beatles and did not know who or what they were. After being told that they were rockie-rollies I must have said something about not liking rock. The next thing I knew I was being beat on by a couple of larger and older types for not liking rock. I quickly learned that blending in with protective camo was a good idea. Minor, compared to having to hide something as large as gay, but instructive nevertheless. Now, this was a persecution for being different, and no matter how right I was or was not; no matter how wrong they were or were not, the bruises were real and I really didn’t lose anything (except more bruises) by keeping my mouth shut when pop music was being discussed. My opinions did not change, just what I exposed. This was only one of the minor things I learned not to blab around groups of redneck boys. These were not really bad boys, I was just different.
Now, what in the hell does this have to do with gays in the military? (Or anywhere else). Well, it is a normal human thing to distrust the stranger. Those who are different may be persecuted. This is a normal pack behavior and we are pack animals. It is all well and good to say that anyone who discriminates against gays will be prosecuted, but if you have been beaten or even murdered that is rather cold comfort to know that you will be avenged. Better to not broadcast your differences and survive. This doesn’t mean that you have to live your life in fear and stay in a closet. It does mean that the correct position is to not rub your difference into others faces. The correct answer to “are you gay” is “that is none of anyone else’s business”.
Go play as you will on leave, but it is not necessary to discuss in bull sessions. The same applies to any workplace environment. If you rub other’s faces in your differences it may be you that gets the bloody nose.
There are two military conditions: not in combat and in combat. If not in combat the main thing you have to worry about is getting beat or shunned. Either is not a goodness. In combat, if your buds think they cannot depend on you, well, you could get shot by the enemy or your own buds. If they think that you are not dependable they may not cover your butt when needed.
This is not to say that gay and military cannot go together. Nuts. They can. People mocked Clinton’s don’t ask/don’t tell policy, but it really is one of the better things that he did. You must understand that I am not a Clinton fan by any means. In combat, you must absolutely depend on your buds and they must be able to depend on you. Any weakness in the unit can be fatal.
It is possible that over time it may even come to the point that sexual orientation is irrelevant compared to the many good things they like about you. But that will take time. No matter how much legislation is passed, you will have to prove yourself as a person and as a soldier before anything else is accepted. Legal props mean nothing in combat. Laws are irrelevant to a corpse. Not fair, I agree, but that is the reality of combat.
I was a Marine. Perhaps the best advice I can give you is: “Just shut up and soldier”.
BTW – rednecks are not the only dangerous group. Try being a conservative around a crowd of libs. Just as bad. Oh, they might not get physical, but the persecution will be just a vicious. They don’t go for the throat, they go for the groin.