Gays in the military is a hot topic with the American people. I know this firsthand, for in addition to my law practice and my duties as director of the Heartland Institute of Missouri, I host a Friday afternoon call-in show on a St. Louis radio station. WGNU, notorious in St. Louis for having been the first radio station with enough gall to broadcast the Major League Baseball games of a team other than the Cardinals (it carried the Harry Cary-era Chicago White Sox), is an all call-in station featuring a black separatist host in the morning and, in the evening, a grande dame retired fashion editor from the let-them-eat-cake school of conservative thought. Those of us with two-hour outposts in the middle of the day consequently receive quite a cross-section of thought. Thus, whenever there is unanimity on one of the issues of the day, I am naturally alarmed, but so it was when President Clinton announced that he would follow through on his pledge to lift the ban on openly gay members of the Armed Forces.

One caller maintained that soldiering would quickly become one of the stereotypical gay professions along with hairdressing and interior decorating. This was based on his reasoning that gays would soon be disproportionately represented in the military ranks, since many of them would find the idea of living in close quarters with young, sinewy, lonesome men “a pretty good idea.” Another caller indicated that the “man in uniform” was already a prevalent fantasy in homosexual erotica and that “asking a homosexual if he’d like to serve in the Army was like asking me if I’d like to be the dressing-room attendant for the Folies-Bergere.” Opposition to the idea was fierce, although there was agreement that any soldier who did not reveal his sexual preference to his fellow soldiers would pose no problem. In other words, no witch hunts, just a policy of keeping homosexual proclivities a secret between the soldier and the chaplain. And opposition to Mr. Clinton’s plan spanned racial and gender lines, although one gentleman called in to say that women were not going to be as opposed to this as men, because women “just don’t understand what that’s like.” (This idea left me wondering whether we males could seek membership in the “pro-choice” movement, decreeing that this is a “privacy right” of men that women are not allowed to comment on because they don’t know what it’s like to be a man. But I’m not holding my breath.)

This kind of backlash caught me by surprise. After all, this issue had surfaced during the campaign and everybody knew where Clinton stood, yet nobody mentioned anything then. In fact. if I had had to gauge the voters on this issue before the election, I would have said their attitude was one of: “Why are the Republicans bringing this up? They’re just trying to shove this family values stuff down our throats. We don’t want to hear about this. We want to hear about the real issues!” Yet now there’s anger at Clinton and steadfast opposition to the change in policy.

Conclusion? All controversy about homosexuality, whether generated by the left or the right, furthers what is probably the number one point in the gay agenda: making homosexuality general parlor conversation and therefore eking out grams of acceptance. Voters, on the other hand, want to hear as little as possible about homosexuality. They resent whoever introduces the subject into the national forum, in a sense blaming the messenger. They don’t want to hear Republicans or Democrats making noisy suggestions about changes in governmental policy with regard to homosexuals. They want the status quo.