Sexuality and Sexual Orientation in the Military and Other Social Institutions
Larry M. Lance
American culture, like other cultures in general, has been characterized by a heterosexual sexual orientation. As a result, there exist widespread homophobia and discrimination of the homosexual sexual orientation throughout social institutions--military, educational, family, religious, and political institutions, and beyond. For example, the governmental institution has traditionally dismissed gay people from the military based on their sexual orientation rather than their performance. Moreover, from the standpoint of the governmental institution, discrimination against the homosexual orientation is evident in the existing laws. In contemporary American society homosexual relations are illegal in about half of the states, with several states specifically singling out acts between persons of the same sex.
Gay marriages are not legally recognized by governmental institutions of any of the states. Further, for many people, linking lesbians and gays with the term family is a contradiction in terms. Many people take the position that "homosexuals are antifamily." However, research suggests that lesbians and gay males are as involved with family life as heterosexuals. Indeed, homosexuality in the family takes many forms. For example, there are traditional family structures where a member is homosexual as a parent, as a teenager, or as a grandparent.
With respect to the religious institution, many mainline Christian denominations and major Jewish bodies have made statements supporting civil rights for homosexuals. On the other hand, conservative religious groups and some segments of mainline Christian denominations continue to present the most vocal