Mark Thompson has posted a piece on Time magazines Swampland blog regarding the possible overturning (which he considers inevitable) of the current law against homosexual conduct in the military.
Such a radical change in military policy is hardly inevitable. Legislation to repeal the law is on life support following last months Senate vote to block it, and Judge Virginia Phillips muddled ruling that the law is unconstitutional ignored so much existing precedent that it is unlikely to be upheld.
Thompson, however, has delved into the archives of military history and relates findings about how African Americans were integrated within the armed forces without major difficulty. He concludes that the integration of homosexuals would take place just as smoothly.
One key difference, of course, is that blacks had long been eligible to serve in the military, but had served in segregated units. In contrast, homosexuals have always been considered ineligible for military service at all. (The popular misnomer Dont Ask Dont Tell misleads many into believing that active homosexuals are currently welcomed by the military as long as they stay in the closet. The truth is the oppositethe 1993 law mandates, with very limited exceptions, the discharge of any servicemember who has engaged in, attempted to engage in, or solicited another to engage in a homosexual act or acts.)
Furthermore, Thompson simply assumes the answer to two critical threshold questions:
1) Is being gay like being black?
2) Is sexual conduct relevant to military effectiveness?
The logical answer to #1 is no. Homosexuality is a behavioral characteristic; being black is a superficial matter of skin color. The racial integration of the military was successful precisely because it proved that the behavior of black soldiers did not differ from that of whites. But with homosexuality, a difference in behavior is what defines the issue. Do not be fooled by vague references to sexual orientation as though it were an innate characteristicwhat homosexual activists now seek is the right to continue engaging in homosexual acts while in the military .
Homosexual activists compare sexual orientation to race in order to obscure the important differences between sexual attractions, behavior, and self-identification. Only the attractions are, like race, involuntary; but none of these elements of sexual orientation are (like race) inborn, immutable, innocuous, and in the Constitution. The 1993 law which homosexual activists seek to overturn is focused on homosexual conduct, and treats attractions or self-identification as relevant only because they are evidence of a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts.
So does the military have a legitimate interest in regulating the sexual conduct of its members? The answer has always been yes, with respect to heterosexual conduct as well as homosexual. Adultery, for instance, remains a crime in the military, at a time when the civil law has long since become indifferent to it. As Congress found in 1993, high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion . . . are the essence of military capability, and there is no doubt that sexual conduct can threaten those standards and harm that capability.
Sexual tension, sexual harassment, and sexual assault are problems that exist among heterosexuals in the militarybut those problems would increase if homosexuals were allowed to serve, because it would be impossible to separate homosexuals the way that men and women are separated in their most intimate settings (showers, sleeping quarters, etc.). Increased health problems among homosexuals (in particular, dramatically higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV among men who have sex with men) would pose a direct challenge to military readiness.
The analogy to the racial integration of the military, even if it had any validity, would apply only to the concern that homosexuality in the military would damage recruiting and retention of personnel. But those are only two out of the nine likely negative consequences of repealing the current law that were identified by Col. Robert Maginnis in the FRC booklet Mission Compromised. The others are:
- Damage to unit effectiveness.
- Health consequences with high cost.
- Threats to freedom of those who morally object to homosexuality.
- Special protections for homosexuals.
- Taxpayer-funded benefits to homosexual partners of servicemembers.
- Possibility of costly new living arrangements to protect privacy.
- Changes to military law and regulations regarding sexual offenses.
The argument that, as the gay newsmagazine The Advocate recently declared on its cover, Gay is the New Black, is one that most blacks resent, and that simply cannot stand up to serious scrutiny.