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GAYS AND THE DRAFT
by Ken Carpenter
The resumption of draft registration has
created problems for all young people, but particularly for gay men. During previous military
drafts homosexuals were automatically exempted
as morally and psychologically unfit. So the
decision facing gay men was simply whether to stay
in the closet and be drafted or come out and have
a 4F classification permanently on their record.
Many young men assume admitting gayness will
still guarantee an automatic exenption. However,
that is not necessarily true. The Matlovich case
and other recent court decisions make it uncertain
whether the military can automatically exclude
homosexual people. Furthermore, in the late 1960's,
so many men claimed to be gay in order to avoid
Vietnam that the Selective Service System began
demanding documentary proof, or merely drafted gay
Now gay men, in addition to deciding whether
or not to come out to the government, face the
possibility that they will be drafted even if they
do. And while the military may not be able to
exclude openly gay people, it is likely that they
will continue to make life pretty difficult for them.
All this adds up to a very difficult decision
for our young, draft-eligible gay brothers and sisters. The American Friends Service Committee, a
Quaker-related organization which has been doing
draft counseling since the First World War, is addressing the special problems of gay people and the
draft. AFSC and the Austin Draft Information Center
have trained gay counselors available for confidential draft counseling in person or by phone.
For more information, call me at AFSC, 1022
West Sixth Street, Austin, Texas 78703, 474-2399.
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