Friday, August 22, 2008
Candidates and “Rainbow Rights” in the Military [Elaine Donnelly]
Should civilians waving rainbow flags get to make policy for our military? It is a legitimate question in the presidential race. Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama sports a rainbow-striped logo in the “People” section of his website celebrating Lesbian/Gay/ Bisexual/Transgender (LGBT) rights. A draft of the Democratic National Platform, expected to be approved in Denver, advocates inclusion of professed homosexuals in the military.
The Libertarian Party Platform also endorses that goal, which presidential nominee Bob Barr promoted in a June 2007 Wall Street Journal op-ed. Obama and Barr want to repeal the 1993 law stating that homosexuals are not eligible for military service, commonly mislabeled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In contrast, Sen. John McCain voted for and still supports the 1993 law. In a June 24, 2008, letter to the Center for Military Readiness, Sen. McCain confirmed his support for the 1993 law, which was supported in the Republican National Platforms of 2000 and 2004.
Legislative moves to repeal the 1993 law are expected early next year. If liberal Democrats and misguided Republicans are successful, what would the consequences be? That was the topic I addressed on July 23, speaking as an invited witness before the House Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee. This national security issue is being billed as a matter of “civil rights,” so I challenged members to take the “civil rights” argument to its logical, misguided conclusion.
Absent the law stating that homosexuals are not eligible for military service, the armed forces would have to implement a new policy: forced cohabitation with professed (not discreet) homosexuals, in all military communities, 24/7. These would include Army and Marine infantry battalions, Special Operations Forces, Navy SEALs, surface ships, and submarines.
This would be tantamount to forcing female soldiers to cohabit with men at all times, regardless of the impact on discipline and morale. Stated in gender-neutral terms, in conditions of “forced intimacy,” a phrase used in current law, persons will be exposed to persons who may be openly sexually attracted to them. Sexual tension of any kind is inherently disruptive, but those affected would have no recourse, short of leaving or avoiding the military all together.
In matters such as this, the military does not do things half-way. Following historic precedent, officials will issue orders giving special, unprecedented rights to professed homosexuals, and enforce a corollary policy of “zero tolerance” of anyone who disagrees. Anyone who dares to complain about inappropriate, passive/aggressive actions conveying a sexual message or approach, short of physical touching and assault, will face career-killing presumptions and counter-accusations questioning their motives. In messy, emotionally charged disputes, commanders who take sides against homosexuals also could be accused of “intolerance” that violates the “zero tolerance” policy.
To make the new policy “work,” the military will implement “diversity training” programs designed by activists and “experts” favoring the homosexual cause. Mandatory sessions will attempt to overcome the normal human desire for modesty and privacy in sexual matters ─ a quest that is inappropriate for the military and unlikely to succeed. No one has explained how this radical cultural change would improve discipline, morale or readiness.
Various types of misconduct occur between military men and women because people are human and sexuality is a powerful force. Those who want to repeal the 1993 law, however, seem to think that homosexuals are more perfect than everyone else. Illusions aside, incidents of misconduct are likely to increase threefold, to include male/male and female/female issues.
None of this is necessary. The number of discharges for homosexuality is small compared to personnel losses for other reasons, such as pregnancy or weight-standard violations. Personnel losses could be reduced to near zero if Bill Clinton’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” administrative policy were dropped and the law fully enforced.
Legislation is not required to eliminate Defense Department regulations known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which were implemented in 1993. Then-president Bill Clinton proposed a plan to accommodate homosexuals in the military if they did not say they were homosexual. Congress considered Clinton’s concept but rejected it as unworkable. Instead, members chose to codify and confirm language nearly identical to Defense Department regulations in place since 1981, stating that “homosexuality is incompatible with military service.”
The resulting law, Section 654, Title 10, provides fifteen findings and reasons why the armed forces are different from the civilian world, and why homosexuals are not eligible to serve. It passed with bipartisan, veto-proof majority votes, and federal courts have declared it constitutional several times—most recently in June 2008. The only “compromise” allowed the Clinton administration to drop “the question” about homosexuality that used to appear on induction forms. That question can (and should) be reinstated at any time.
Clinton signed the law, but undermined its meaning by imposing on the military inconsistent enforcement regulations reflecting his own concept, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In 1996, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recognized disparities between the actual law and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The law deserves continued support, but Clinton’s administrative policy should have been dropped long ago.
Everyone can serve our country in some way, but the issue is not individual desires or “rainbow rights.” It is discipline, morale, and the culture of the military, on which our national security depends.
—Elaine Donnelly is President of the Center for Military Readiness, an independent, non-partisan public policy organization that specializes in military personnel issues. Her July 23, 2008, testimony is posted here. Supporters of the 1993 law are invited to sign the petition posted at AmericansfortheMilitary.com.
08/22 03:37 PMShare