In The Bunker

Ana Marie Cox debates Rich Lowry on ending the persecution of gay servicemembers in the military. It's a very pleasant and honest chat. I always learn something from hearing straight people talk about us.

I repeat my firm belief that the day after this ban is fully lifted ... nothing will happen publicly. The closet will not burst open; these many patriots, often from the heartland, have absolutely no desire to inject their sexual orientation into combat or military culture. They want to do their jobs without fear of others targeting them, and to do so with integrity. The big change will happen in the minds and souls of gay servicemembers, who will fight without fear. I ave known countless of these men and women. They are among the best in our community. It pains me deeply for years to see them endure this kind of stress and fear, let alone the incidents of intense cruelty and humiliation when they are outed, sometimes days before they are due pensions for a lifetime of service.

Rich says that it's no big deal to live hiding one's sexual orientation. If you're straight, try it for one day.

Try never mentioning your spouse, your family, your home, your girlfriend or boyfriend to anyone you know or work with - just for one day. Take that photo off your desk at work, change the pronoun you use for your spouse to the opposite gender, guard everything you might say or do so that no one could know you're straight, shut the door in your office if you have a personal conversation if it might come up.

Try it. Now imagine doing it for a lifetime. It's crippling; it warps your mind; it destroys your self-esteem. These men and women are voluntarily risking their lives to defend us. And we are demanding they live lives like this in order to do so.

Yes, Admiral Mullen. It is about integrity. It's also about a minimum of human respect.

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