Last week an attempt to repeal the Clinton-era policy Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) as part of a military spending bill in the U.S. Senate failed to garner the 60 votes needed to end debate and pass the legislation.
DADT—a 1993 compromise between an outright ban of homosexuals in the military and a full repeal of that ban—bars homosexual soldiers from being openly gay and prevents officials from inquiring into a member’s sexual orientation unless provoked. Members found to be gay are discharged.
The silliness of this policy is palpable—it requires U.S. citizens to oppress and essentially lie about what they do with their genitalia in their spare time in order to enter military service.
It has been said by those who oppose the repeal that the military demands individuals of the highest moral character, even though in order to meet enlistment requirements over the past decade, the military has started to accept felons. More concerning is that such a claim presupposes a negative correlation between sexual orientation and the content of one’s character, thus placing sexual orientation in the domain of ethics, which is liable to make any professor of ethics vomit on their shoes.
For former board member of the Georgia Military Affairs Committee Rick Goddard, who opposed the repeal in an egregiously unlettered op-ed in the Atlantic Journal Constitution, the question is “one of national security and the discipline, morale, readiness and culture of the U.S. armed forces.”
On an episode of 60 Minutes Iraq veteran Daniel Davis argued that homosexuals hurt “unit cohesion,” cause chaos and confusion, and prevent certain bonds from forming that are essential to combat. He said “more men will die” as a result of openly gay men and women serving in the military.
These views do not reflect the majority (as if public opinion matters in this case), but it seems patently clear that these arguments are misguided at best.
Why not bar all beautiful, voluptuous, wide-hipped, big-breasted, long-legged women because they are a source of temptation, conflict and distraction for heterosexual men?
Last year the New York Times (NYT) reported on male, heterosexual-instigated sexual harassment, sexual assault, and pregnancy in U.S. military operations in Iraq. All are prevalent repercussions of incorporating the sexes in the military.
A 2007 survey by the Department of Defense (DOD) found 34 percent of active-duty women reported being sexually harassed. The Miles Foundation, a private non-profit group, has seen an increasing trend in reported sexual assaults, a higher number than the DOD because Miles offer private, confidential services. Heterosexual rape is such a widely recognized occurrence that officers often tell women not to go to the latrines without protection.
This is not an argument for the partition of the sexes, but rather to further show there is no basis to the opposition against repeal of DATD.
Many high-ranking officials cited in the NYT report said that military issues including harassment, hardship and sexual relations that occur by way of incorporating the sexes, is a matter of “discipline, maturity and professionalism”—not a justification for separating the sexes.
In a moment of sobriety, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), much detested by his party, plainly added to this and put it into perspective.
“We don’t get our rights by being gay, or women or minorities,” he said in response to being asked what he thought about DADT at a 2008 Republican primary debate. “So if there is homosexual behavior in the military that is disruptive, it should be dealt with. But if there is heterosexual behavior that is disruptive, it should be dealt with. So it isn’t the issue of homosexuality, it is the concept and understanding of individual rights. If we understood that we would not be dealing with this…”
The porous claims commonly spewed and absorbed by the public at large about openly gay members being detrimental to the effectiveness of the U.S. military are nothing more than concessions to a sexually oppressed, unhealthy culture of homophobia guised as righteous, holier-than-thou moralizing.
In the middle of the 20th century, justification for the barring of homosexuals in the military stemmed in part from psychiatry’s conclusion that it was an indicator of psychopathology. It is long past due to call out this culture of homophobia as an indicator of psychopathology, ignorance and an over-indulgence in one’s own personal problems, afflictions and sexual and cultural insecurities.
No decent, secure, heterosexual man can sanely claim that because it is known that his combat mate rides the Greek Saddle in his spare time, he is unfit to fight, or detrimental to the military and its cause. The atrocities cited against women are a product of a failure—a failure that demonstrates recruiting those of the “highest moral character” is not as high a priority as they would like you to believe.