Toby Keith has released some of the most proudly patriotic songs in modern country music, making him an easy target for those who prefer to think of country artists (and perhaps country fans) as belligerent or intolerant. The reality, of course, is more nuanced.

The fact is that Keith is simply not shy about speaking his mind, as readers discovered when Keith was asked to share his thoughts on gay rights during a recent interview with CMT Insider.

“We’re going to stop somebody from getting a marriage license because they’re gay?” Keith asked incredulously. “You won’t stop them from living together, so what have you accomplished? … Wasting a lot of money here and a lot of time that could be spent working on this deficit that we’re under … I never saw the reasoning behind getting in people’s personal lives.”

Keith shared similar thoughts regarding gays in the military, saying, “It’s just such a big issue that people make such a big stink about — ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ … And that sounds like our government: ‘We’ll fix it by saying, ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.’ Everybody agree, raise your hands. All right, let’s go get a snack.’ That whole gay issue thing, that’s never bothered me. I’ve never seen what that affects and [why] anybody should care — and they never do affect me.”

He acknowledged that it’s an emotional issue, conceding that “the military is a tough thing” because “you have people who have problems with it, and I’m wondering how that’s going to be compatible on the battlefield.

“That’s the only question I have, other than that I don’t care,” Keith continued. “You know, I don’t know enough about what they proposed or what they’ve put in place here. … Somebody’s sexual preference is like, ‘Who cares?’”

As a father to two daughters, Keith does admit that putting women on the battlefield makes him nervous. “You’re fighting some evil guys. They’re ready to destroy you,” he explained. “And especially when we get captured, and they get a military female, that just gets me. … ‘Man, what are they doing to her right now?’

“You can kind of go, ‘They took one of our warriors, and he’s got a fighting chance maybe to get out,’” Keith mused, adding, “But if they get a girl, they can completely abuse her, so I have a little bit of a problem with that. But some of them girls are tough as hell too, so… as long as females and the gays and the soldiers are all killers and ready to fight people off… get ‘em!”

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