Many gays and lesbians serve honorably in today's
military. That is no secret. It is also no secret that open
homosexuality within the ranks could hinder unit cohesion, reduce
war-fighting capability, and place our troops at greater risk. No
wishful thinking, edict, or State of the Union speech can alter this
reality. Closeted gays do not cause a disruption in the military
precisely because they are closeted.
There is no constitutional right to serve in the Armed Forces. For
readiness reasons, the military is selective about who serves based on
age, weight, education, family status, physical fitness, and drug usage.
Extensive training, good order, and discipline are required. Compromise any of these elements and our casualties on
the battlefield will be higher, and our chances for success will be
'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' (DADT) works, and overturning it is not a
change the public is desperately seeking. It is not a change servicemen
and women are clamoring for either. A recent survey by the Army Times
found that 51% of solders oppose gays serving openly, with only 30% in
As Congress noted in 1993 when the policy was adopted, active gays
would pose "an unacceptable risk to the armed forces' high standards of
morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the
essence of military capability."
Enter Barack Obama and the splintering coalition that got him elected
in 2008. In his State of the Union speech, Obama offered his moderate
supporters a partial spending freeze and promises of nuclear power,
clean coal, and offshore drilling. Progressives, however, are his base
and are disillusioned with his failure to pass a health care plan or Cap
and Trade. No president can be reelected without his base.
Obama is therefore compelled to appeal to progressives by the
elimination of DADT, and for open homosexuality within the military.
Politically, he has little to lose. Everyone knows he has no allegiance
to the military. All should understand that this issue is a political
calculation for him, and nothing more.
Obama's only explanation for his proposal is that, "It's the right
thing to do." Military effectiveness is not his utmost priority. When
Bill Clinton raised this issue in 1993, a firestorm erupted. The DADT
policy forged at that time, however, has worked well over the years with
readiness maintained with fewer gays involuntarily discharged than
Nobody says that gays cannot fight. There are many examples through
history where they have done so effectively. The real question is what
impact openly homosexual soldiers will have on other soldiers.
As it is today, peers of a gay soldier who "minds his own business"
often know about his status and choose to ignore it, unless the gay
soldier gets pushy or gets someone angry with him. Straight soldiers
knowing, but not caring, about a gay soldier, if he does his job,
suggest this issue is less about being gay and more about the individual
and the way he handles himself.
Current DADT policy allows room for interpretation by commanders at
all levels, which could lead to inconsistencies. Perhaps a review board
could be established for such cases and thereby reduce the number of
separations rather than leaving the decision up to a commanding officer,
as is current policy. There is a big difference, however, between
fine-tuning existing DADT policy to see that fewer gay discharges occur,
and declaring that open homosexuality acceptable within the ranks.
Military life, especially on deployment or in a combat environment,
is marked by a forced intimacy that is not found in civilian life. No
one goes home at night to his private life. This 24/7 'Band of Brothers'
type intimacy does not always function perfectly even in the best of
circumstances. Allowing openly gay soldiers into this environment would
tenuous at best.
Such exclusionary attitudes may seem old-fashioned, but no amount of
political correctness will change them when the bullets start to fly.
When a soldier's life is on the line, little else matters to him but
success and survival. It is tight unit cohesion that saves lives and
carries the day on the field of battle. Lessen it in any way, and we
Once gays are allowed to serve openly, we can soon expect dependent
benefits and military housing for a domestic partner, and to bring that
partner to unit family functions. This is all very normal in the
civilian world, but it would still be a bit shocking in today's military
And once the legal precedent of DADT is removed, we can't be
surprised when an operative from the gay and lesbian movement enlists
in the military with the deliberate motive to force the gay agenda on
the military, and have a platoon of ACLU lawyers at the ready when
someone objects. The military could lose control to the courts with
commanders becoming afraid to risk their careers for something as
intangible as unit cohesion. In the end, it would be America who loses
by way of a degraded military.
If allowing gays to serve outside 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' lessens the
ability of the military to perform its function -- to fight and win wars
-- then it is wrong. While some further accommodation with gays may be
possible, military policy should not increase the inherent risk facing
those who do the fighting.