As America faces a two-front war and economic fragility, another peril looms on the horizon that threatens the honor and integrity of one of our nation’s most important institutions: our Armed Forces.
President Obama promised in his January 27, 2010 State of the Union Address that he would work with Congress and the military to overthrow the current law that excludes homosexuals from the military.1
A Moral Revolution
This move cannot be considered in a vacuum. To understand fully its significance, it must be seen in light of a decades-old homosexual movement that strives to uproot the very foundations of our morality. Thus, homosexual activist Paul Varnell, writing in the Chicago Free Press, affirmed: “The gay movement is not a civil rights movement but a moral revolution aimed at changing people’s view of homosexuality.”2
Indeed, the significance of overthrowing the military’s prohibition on homosexuality is well understood by the movement’s leaders. Thus, Thomas Stoddard, former executive director of Lambda Legal, admitted: “This is not a fight about the military. This is a fight of every lesbian and gay American for their place in society.”3
Similarly, the nation’s largest homosexual rights group, Human Rights Campaign, plans to spend over $2 million on a national lobbying campaign to influence lawmakers whose votes will be needed to overthrow current law.4
These activists understand how our military is a powerful symbol in the minds of Americans. William Kristol was correct when he called it the “one major American institution [that] retains citizens’ faith.”5 Thus, were homosexuals allowed to serve, it would resound throughout all our nation’s institutions.
That is one of the many reasons why our military must be defended from ideologues who would sacrifice its effectiveness and honor on the altar of unrestrained license, even at a time when national and global security rests on its successful campaign against terrorism.
Exacerbating this danger, many pundits cloud the issue by parroting the homosexual movement’s sophistry. Thus, it is worthwhile to take a closer look at some of the main arguments used to support repeal of the ban.
Do Homosexuals Have a Right to Serve?
One sophism claims that homosexuals have a right to serve in our Armed Forces. Proponents of this notion often label the current law discriminatory. They compare lifting of the ban to President Truman’s 1948 executive order that desegregated our nation’s military.
However, such claims are baseless. First, there is no constitutional “right” to serve in the Armed Forces, nor could there be such a right. Because of its fighting purpose, the military is necessarily a discriminating organization that revokes membership on the basis of age, height, physical infirmity and many other causes. Obviously, these forms of discrimination would not be accepted in civilian society. Similarly, violations of morality such as lying and adultery can result in court-martial.
Additionally, there is no comparison to be made between President Truman’s desegregation of the military and lifting the ban on homosexuals in our Armed Forces. Homosexual behavior is a moral, not a racial issue. It is a personal choice of lifestyle.
Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell affirmed this,6 stating: “Skin color is a benign non-behavioral characteristic. Sexual orientation is perhaps the most profound of human behavioral characteristics. Comparison of the two is a convenient but invalid argument.”7
Indeed, current law is not based on who homosexuals claim to be, but on what they do.
Would the Presence of Open Homosexuals Harm Unit Cohesion?
Another argument claims that the presence of open homosexuals would not harm unit cohesion. Those making this claim state that unit cohesion was unaffected in England, Canada and elsewhere when these nations allowed homosexuals to serve.
First of all, it must be noted that these countries are not the United States. Neither Canada nor England has the military commitments or capabilities we do8 and both have a markedly more liberal view of homosexuality. Indeed, many members of Britain’s Conservative Party, including their leader David Cameron, approve of homosexual adoption and same-sex unions.9
In America, things are different, even more so on our bases. As Colonel David Bedey wrote: “It is an undeniable fact…that military communities are bastions of traditional values.”10
This is important to consider because shared values are necessary to unit cohesion. According to Commander of the Army Research Institute William Darryl Henderson: “Common attitudes, values and beliefs among members of a unit promote cohesion…some observers contend that similarities of attitudes contribute to group cohesion more than any other single factor.”11
Allowing homosexuals to serve would also break down unit trust, a necessary foundation for cohesion. Vietnam War hero Colonel John Ripley explained this in testimony delivered on May 4, 1993 before the House Armed Services Committee, saying: “No one can trust a leader nor can a leader trust a subordinate if he thinks there are sexual feelings just underneath the surface. It makes no difference if the individual is suppressing those feelings. It makes trust virtually impossible.”12
Common sense reinforces what Colonel Ripley affirmed. As current law points out, military society is necessarily “characterized by forced intimacy with little or no privacy.”13 In turn, this leads to high levels of stress. The effect of adding sexual tension to the mix need only be imagined.
Perhaps that is one reason why America’s two most prominent veterans groups, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion, whose combined membership exceeds 4 million, have both come out against repeal of the ban.14
Also, during wartime, men are in continual contact with each other’s blood. Therefore, the well documented increased disease rates of homosexuals would cause them to be perceived as a risk rather than an asset to unit survival.
This increased disease rate should not be underestimated. As Colonel Ronald Ray pointed out: “Despite the fact that they account for less than 2 percent of the total American population, a compilation of recent health studies shows that homosexuals account for 80 percent of America’s most serious sexually transmitted diseases.”15
This increased disease rate has led some to refer to the homosexual lifestyle as a “deathstyle.” Inclusion of this deathstyle in our Armed Forces is a dangerous proposition, indeed.
With these factors in mind, it is simply impossible to suggest that openly serving homosexuals would not damage unit cohesion. Current law and many officers corroborate this affirmation.
Among them is General Norman Schwarzkopf, who affirmed: “…in my years of military service, I’ve experienced the fact that the introduction of an open homosexual into a small unit immediately polarizes that unit and destroys the very bonding that is so important for the unit’s survival in time of war.”16
Last, the current law, which was passed with a veto-proof majority in both houses of a Democrat-led Congress, states: “The armed forces must maintain personnel policies that exclude persons whose presence…would create 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.”17
At a Time of War, Can We Afford to Lose Capable Servicemen?
Opponents of current law also claim that we cannot afford to expel any trained personnel during our present military engagements. In this line, the media often claim that over 300 language experts, including over 50 fluent Arabic speakers, have been discharged from the military under the current law.
These claims are based on exaggerated and misrepresented information. In her July 23, 2008 testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Elaine Donnelly, president and founder of the Center for Military Readiness, noted that 9,501 homosexuals were discharged from our military in the 11 years between 1993-2004, a yearly average of 864.18 While this may seem like a lot, it is relatively few compared with the number of servicemen who were dismissed for other reasons.
For example: 36,513 enlisted personnel were removed during the same time period for having gained too much weight, 26,446 were removed for becoming pregnant and an additional 20,527 for parenthood, while nearly 60,000 were removed for drug use.19 If we were to stop removing homosexuals from our Armed Forces, how could we continue to dismiss those whose only offense is having too hearty an appetite? Furthermore, if we concede to lower standards for the sake of quantity, where will we next draw the line?
Also, claims that 300 language “experts,” and over 50 “fluent” Arabic speakers have been discharged from our military because of their homosexuality is based on a 2005 Government Accountability Office (GAO) study. However, the GAO document clearly states: “Relatively few of these separated servicemembers had proficiency scores in listening to, reading, or speaking…that were above the midpoint on DOD’s language proficiency scales.”
Among the 54 “fluent” Arabic speakers, only 20 had recorded scores, of which none scored above midpoint for speaking proficiency. Furthermore, 59% of these discharged language “experts” had served for two and a half years or less.20
Furthermore, we must consider the loss of manpower that would result from lifting the ban. There is convincing evidence to show that these losses would greatly outweigh the number of homosexuals removed under current law.
A 2008 survey done by the Military Times showed that nearly 10% of respondents claimed they would “not re-enlist or extend” their service if the homosexual prohibition were lifted, while an additional 14% reported that they would “consider not re-enlisting or extending” their military careers.21
As Mrs. Donnelly pointed out, if we assume that these numbers represent the views of all active and reserve forces, repeal of the ban could result in a loss of between 228,600–527,000 servicemen (depending on the final decision of those considering termination of their careers). These numbers are astounding considering that there are currently around 200,000 active duty Marines.22
Similarly, a 2006 Zogby poll showed that 10% of those who had served in the last 14 years would probably not have even enlisted had there been open homosexuals serving. An additional 13% were undecided.23
Therefore, if we are concerned about diminishing our ranks at this critical moment, we must maintain, not lift, the ban on homosexuals in the military.
Over 1,100 Flag and General Officers Support the Ban
In addition to all the practical arguments we make in favor of current law, there is a voice of experience that speaks more loudly than ours. It is that of our military leadership whose years of service at the highest levels of command have given them the wisdom to understand the issue and all of its implications.
That is why Congress should heed a statement signed by 1,152 retired flag and general officers, strongly urging them and President Obama to uphold the ban on homosexuals in our military.24 Their statement is as urgent as it is unequivocal and includes the following passage:
Our past experience as military leaders leads us to be greatly concerned about the impact of repeal [of the ban] in morale, discipline, unit cohesion, and overall military readiness. We believe that imposing this burden…would undermine recruiting and retention, impact leadership at all echelons… and eventually break the All-Volunteer Force…As a matter of national security, we urge you to support the 1993 law regarding homosexuals in the military (Section 654, Title 10), and to oppose any legislative, judicial, or administrative effort to repeal or invalidate the law.25
The signatories of this message include 51 four-star officers, our nation’s highest peacetime rank.
And to Keep Our Honor Clean…
These practical arguments are helpful, but they do not constitute the most important component of the issue. The core of the matter touches on a higher reality in which the very identity of the American soldier is at stake.
To be successful, a military must incorporate two seemingly incompatible values. On one hand, it must enforce the highest moral principles of discipline, valor and uprightness and simultaneously inculcate the desire to destroy the adversary.
Indeed, the very existence of the military proclaims that evil exists and, at times, must be confronted. It represents the strength of truth and uprightness and is a symbol of that species of good that fearlessly defies wickedness.
Thus, a successful military must operate in an atmosphere in which good and evil are clearly defined and relativism has no place.
The military also personifies self-sacrifice. As the great Catholic thinker Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira wrote, the military profession proclaims “the existence of values worth more than life itself and for which one must be willing to die.”26
It is these values of uprightness, self-sacrifice and strength that project the military into a superior order of things. In a word, they confer an honor upon it, which is so identified with the archetype of the American soldier that our nation’s highest military decoration is called the Medal of Honor.
However, homosexual vice represents the opposite of this military honor. It violates natural law, epitomizes the unleashing of man’s unruly passions, undermines self-discipline and has been defined as “intrinsically evil” by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church on numerous occasions.27
That is why, in order to advance, the homosexual movement must blur the distinctions between virtue and vice; truth and error; good and evil. If this vice is imposed on our Armed Forces, it will necessarily bring this relativistic spirit with it.
In turn, this mentality would undermine the direct and straightforward mindset, so necessary to the military.28 It would sully the honor of all who serve and weaken society’s notion of the incompatibility between good and evil, so well represented by our Armed Forces.
In this light, we understand why homosexual ideologues doggedly insist on effecting this transformation within our military. However, it also gives us powerful motives to resist their plans. We must urge Congress to block any efforts to overthrow current law and insist on the ban’s continued strict enforcement.
Colonel Ripley well understood the dangers of abandoning our current law in this respect. That is why he finished his 1993 testimony to the House Armed Services Committee beseeching Congress to maintain the ban on homosexuals serving in the military in the following moving words: “I implore you, as an American and as a Marine who has fought for his country and loves his Corps and country more than life itself, not to lead us into this ambush from which we can never recover.”29
On his behalf, we should derive encouragement from the words of the Marines’ Hymn that apply to all the branches of our military as they confront this perilous issue:
“We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean…”
The American Society for the Defense
of Tradition, Family and Property
February 11, 2010
Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes
- Although this law, US Code Title 10, Subtitle G, Section 645, is commonly misnamed “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” in fact, it prohibits all homosexuals from serving in the military. “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” is merely a Clinton-era policy that was never codified into law. This policy was deemed illegal in a 1996 ruling of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Cf. http://cmrlink.org/HMilitary.asp?docID=103.
- Paul Varnell, “Defending Our Morality,” Chicago Free Press, Aug. 16, 2000, http://www.indegayforum.org/news/show/27088.html. To understand how homosexual acts are against nature, it is sufficient to consider the psychological and physical complementarity between opposite sexes.
- Jeffrey Schmalz, “Gay Groups Regrouping For War on Military Ban,” The New York Times, Feb. 7, 1993, http://www.nytimes.com/1993/02/07/us/gay-groups-
- Craig Whitlock and Ed O’Keefe, “On Issue of Gays in Military, Pentagon Will Make Recommendations to Congress,” The Washington Post, Jan. 29, 2010, http://www.washingtonpost.com/
- William Kristol, The Weekly Standard, Vol. 15, No. 20, Feb. 8, 2010, http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/don%E2%80%99t-mess-success.
- General Powell’s unfortunate change of position with regard to homosexuals in the military was due to what he called a change in public attitudes toward homosexuality, not the issue of discrimination. Cf. Karen DeYoung, “Colin Powell Now Says Gays Should Be Able to Serve Openly in Military,” The Washington Post, Feb. 4, 2010, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/03/A
- Mackubin Thomas Owens, “The Case Against Gays in the Military,” The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 2, 2010, http://online.wsj.com/article/S
- As James Lindsay, Jerome Johnson, E.G. “Buck” Shuler Jr. and Joseph J. Went pointed out: “America’s armed forces are models for our allies’ militaries and the envy of our adversaries – not the other way around.” ”Gays and the Military: A Bad Fit,” The Washington Post, Apr. 15, 2009, http://www.washingtonpost.com/
- Cf. Joanna Bogle, “Conservative Britain? I Don’t Think So,” MercatorNet, Jan. 28, 2010, http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/
conservative_britain_i_dont_think_so/. Also: Hilary White, “U.K.’s Conservative Leader Pledges Full Support for Gay Agenda,” LifeSiteNews.com, Feb. 8, 2010, http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2010/feb/10020805.html.
- Colonel David F. Bedey, US Army, Ret., “Exclusive: Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’: A Clear and Present Danger,” Family Security Matters, Jan. 27, 2010, http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/id.5363/pub_detail.asp.
- William Darryl Henderson, Cohesion The Human Element in Combat (Washington, DC: National Defense University Press, 1985) p. 75.
- Norman Fulkerson, An American Knight (Spring Grove, Penn.: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, 2009) p. 124 and Appendix II.
- US Code Title 10, Subtitle G, Section 645: Policy Concerning Homosexuality in the Armed Forces, http://web.mit.edu/committees/rotc/code.html.
- “Veteran Groups Resist ‘Don’t Ask’ Repeal,” The Washington Times, Feb. 4, 2010, http://washingtontimes.com/news/2010/feb/04/
- Colonel Ronald D. Ray, USMCR, Gays: In or out? (Washington: Brassey’s (US), 1993) p. 46. Although this study dates back to 1993, its findings are substantiated by current FDA policy that will not accept homosexual men as blood donors. The policy is defended on the FDA’s website, at: http://www.fda.gov/biologicsbloodvaccines/blood
- Melissa Healy, “Schwarzkopf: ‘A 2nd-Class Force’ If Gay Ban Ends,” The Los Angeles Times, Mar. 12, 1993, http://articles.latimes.com/1993-05-12/news/
- US Code Title 10, Subtitle G, Section 645. “Policy Concerning Homosexuality in the Armed Forces.” (Our emphasis.)
- Mrs. Donnelly’s statistics were compiled in a chart she used during her testimony. Chart available online at: http://cmrlink.org/CMRNotes/HomosexualDischarges100107.pdf.
- United States Government Accountability Office,pp. 16 – 21, http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05299.pdf.
- The Military Times ran another survey on homosexuality in the military in 2009, but it did not include a question about how servicemen would react to a repeal of the ban. Cf. http://www.militarytimes.com/webtools/files/Survey%20questionnaire.pdf.
- Elaine, Donnelly, “Poll on Gays in the Military Perturbs Palm Center,” CMRlink.org, Jan. 14, 2009, http://cmrlink.org/HMilitary.asp?docID=342.
- Elaine Donnelly, “PM Polemic for Gays in the Military,” Human Events, Jan. 15, 2008, http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=27504.
- See: http://www.flagandgeneralofficersforthemilitary.com/.
- The statement’s full text is available at: http://cmrlink.org/CMRDocuments/FlagOfficersLetterPOTUS-033109.pdf. A list of all the signatories is available at: http://cmrlink.org/CMRDocuments/FGOM-SigList%281087%29-033109.pdf.
- Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Revolution and Counter-Revolution (York, Penn.: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, 2008) p. 70. Also available online at: http://www.tfp.org/revolution-and-counter-revolution.html.
- Cf. TFP Committee on American Issues, Defending a Higher Law: Why We Must
Resist Same-sex “Marriage” and the Homosexual Movement (York, Penn.: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, 2004), especially Part III.
- Corrêa de Oliveira, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, p. 70.
- Colonel Ripley’s full testimony is available in Appendix II of An American Knight by Norman Fulkerson and online at: http://www.tfp.org/tfp-home/fighting-for-our-