@Odds | Repeal of 'Don't ask, don't tell'

Open door creates problems

By Elaine Donnelly
February 8, 2009
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REPORTS describe President Barack Obama as aloof from the drive for gays in the military - a cause he championed during the campaign. Cool posturing will not hide real problems if Obama signs legislation forcing the gay agenda on the military.

Within minutes of Obama's inauguration, the White House website pledged to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The catch-phrase inaccurately describes a constitutional statute, Section 654, Title 10, which states that homosexuals are not eligible to serve in the military. In 1993, Congress rejected President Bill Clinton's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" proposal to accommodate discreet homosexuals. Instead, it approved language almost identical to longstanding Defense Department regulations.

But Clinton imposed his convoluted "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" concept on the military anyway, issuing administrative regulations that the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recognized in 1996 as inconsistent with the law. Restoring "the question" about homosexuality on induction forms (no new legislation required) would reduce the comparatively small number of discharges for homosexuality to near zero.

If Obama signs a bill repealing the statute, he will bear full responsibility for consequences that would devastate the volunteer force. The new policy would force straight servicemen and women to cohabit with professed (not discreet) homosexuals, in all military communities. That would include Army and Marine infantry battalions, Special Operations Forces, Navy SEALS, surface ships, and submarines.

A corollary policy would enforce "zero tolerance" of dissent. This means that service members confronted with inappropriate actions conveying a sexual message, short of assault, will face career-killing presumptions and counter-accusations questioning their own attitudes and motives. In emotionally charged disputes, commanders who take sides against gays could be accused of "intolerance." Would dissenting chaplains also be punished? In the military, denied promotions end careers.

To make an open-homosexuality policy work, officials will order diversity training programs designed by "experts" in gay culture whose credentials say nothing about common sense. Mandatory training 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.

Sexual tension of any kind is disruptive, but some advocates imply that homosexuals are more perfect than everyone else. Their "civil rights" argument breaks down when the issue is sexuality, not race. Why don't we force military women to cohabit with men in conditions of "forced intimacy," a phrase used in current law?

Repeal would increase misconduct problems three-fold, to include male/male and female/female incidents. How would this radical cultural change improve discipline, morale, or readiness in the all-volunteer force?

In the 2008 Military Times Poll, 58 percent of active-duty subscriber respondents said they opposed repeal of current policy - for the fourth year in a row. A new survey question found that if Congress repeals the law, almost 10 percent would not reenlist, and an additional 14 percent would consider ending their careers. A loss of 10 percent would cost the volunteer force approximately 228,000 people - more than today's active-duty Marine Corps.

To establish bonds of trust with the troops he now leads, Obama should consider all ramifications of repealing the 1993 law. The commander-in-chief should reset his priorities, and put military necessity first.

Elaine Donnelly is president of the Center for Military Readiness.

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