What is a gay soldier, Mom?

This is the question my five-year-old asked me tonight, and I responded with my usual lack of finesse.  Does any parent really sound clever when explaining complex issues to their children? My wild guess is – probably not.  I started with the word, “gay” making sure she understood what that meant.  We’ve already discussed how girls can fall in love with girls before.  That particular revelation produced unbridled joy: “Does that mean I can marry my best friend?!”  “Sure honey, if that’s what you want when you grow up.” Meanwhile I’m thinking, good lord, that marriage will be hell on wheels!  They are the kind of bff’s that fight like cats and dogs over who is the lead princess in their make-believe world, and then make up about once an hour or so.  Anyway, the concept of girls liking girls and boys liking boys is familiar to her, but before I could get a word in edgewise to explain what it means to be a “gay soldier,” she chimed in with “So they are just American soldiers then?”  Oh the wisdom of a five-year-old.

Yes, my dear child, you said it better than anyone I’ve heard yet.  I did not take the time to explain what DADT (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell) stood for.  I admit, it is hard to explain bigoted policies to a five-year-old, especially at 10pm at night when she should be in bed already.  I’ll probably need to save that particular lesson in military policy for later when she has a bit more history under her belt.  My point in sharing this is to say: shame on those people in the GOP debate audience who booed a gay American soldier.  My five-year-old is more discerning, open minded and human than any of those sociopathic adults in that audience.  Also, I am thankful that when I do take the time to explain DADT and its historical context, I won’t have to explain why it is still in effect.  At least there is that.