Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, stunned the gay community on Monday by revealing that some people are less than enamored by homosexuality. Pace, clarifying it since as his own personal view, called homosexual acts "immoral" and thinks its a good thing to restrict it's infiltration into the military.
Human Rights Campaign spokesperson Louis Vizcaino responded by saying, "Right now there are men and women that are in the battle lines, that are in the trenches, they're serving their country. Their sexual orientation has nothing to do with their capability to serve in the U.S. military."
Isn't that the point of 'don't ask, don't tell'?
The Boston Globe reported a year ago that each year, more and more people who violate the don't ask, don't tell policy have been allowed to remain in service. In 2005, almost a third of all contested cases resulted in the defendants retaining their military positions.
Despite the perception, DADT is not being implemented with a heavy hand. It seems that merely being 'outed' is not enough to get one kicked out of the service. The policy is not being used as a blanket rejection of homosexuality, but rather as a selective enforcement based on circumstances that the military deems unsuitable for an effective fighting machine.
So what defines homosexuality? The person or the act? General Pace did not say that homosexuals are immoral and should not serve, he specifically stated that "homosexual acts" are the problem and should not be tolerated in the armed forces. DADT supports this by declaring you can serve while being gay, you can't however be gay while serving. And yes, this means the impossible: controlling your sexual tendencies and decide if you are defined by your status as a soldier or if you are defined by sex.
There's a good reason that the military shuns open homosexuality. It's the same reason that men and women don't bunk and shower together. As Robert Maginnis of Family Research Council put it:
"The military has discovered that the lack of sexual privacy, as well as sex between male and female soldiers, undermines order, discipline, and morale. That is why the sexes are segregated in their living quarters. Most service members of both sexes find being stripped of privacy before the opposite sex to be repugnant."
He suggests that heterosexual men have similar concerns about sexual privacy in regards to homosexual men as women do in regards to men. Do feminists support a policy of women and men being exposed to each other and lacking no sense of privacy or sexual security? Should machoist doctrine have a different expectation?
Maginnis more or less summed the issue up here:
"There is no constitutional right to serve in the military. The military has long discriminated based on age, education, citizenship, health, physical fitness, height, weight, marital status, criminal history and substance abuse."
Perhaps Jim Dent or someone else who has served could answer this: does the army allow married couples to serve together in the same outfits and missions? Does the military infrastructure frown upon relationships between men and women who are serving directly together? I believe that there is a prohibition on relationships depending upon rank conflict-ions, but what about in general? In other words, if a male soldier strikes up a relationship with a female soldier, do they make efforts to conceal it or is it okay to be common knowledge?
If open fraternizing and serious relationships are not preferred, that is an easy fix: keep men and women from bunking and showering together. But how does that work with men and men with a policy of open and accepted homosexuality? Do we have to shift people around every time a conflict of interest is suspected among people of the same sex? Or if those kinds of relationships are allowed, then do we just 'co-ed' the entire military? After all if Privates Neal and Bob can have their cake and eat it to, then why not Privates Neal and Joy?
There are an estimated 65,000 homosexuals in the service. They should be commended for putting their service to their country ahead of their personal life. It should be recognized that they are making an extra sacrifice that most soldiers don't have to make. They should be treated with the same respect as anyone else who honorably discharges at the end of their service.
But DADT should remain in place for seemingly obvious reasons.
Now the question of the day seems to be 'do you believe that homosexuality is immoral'? Perhaps a more revealing question for leaders and candidates would be 'do you believe that homosexuality is moral'?
As I've written in the past, I don't view it as moral or immoral. We are all moral and immoral depending on what day it is and what we are doing or saying that day. I reserve criticisms of morality to events or circumstances that harm other people. I criticize people who promote irresponsible rhetoric and opinions that will harm other people as 'morally corrupt'. Maybe it's my lack of a religious background, but if homosexuality is immoral, than that's between a homosexual and God.
Me? As I've written in the past, I see homosexuality as dysfunctional in almost every sense. Whether it's a genetic dysfunction, a biological dysfunction, an emotional dysfunction, a psychological dysfunction, a social dysfunction...it's still abnormal behavior regardless of how you slice and dice it.
That doesn't make it bad behavior necessarily...but it certainly doesn't require formal social acceptance or the redefining of traditional institutions.
In this 'me-me-me, mine-mine-mine' culture of demand we have evolved into, sometimes the grown-ups have to tell you 'no'.