Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | March 8, 2010

And So It Begins

It was Hamlet who exclaimed, when events proved his suspicions about the murder of his father, “O my prophetic soul!”

Readers, you may consider yourselves fortunate that that’s the only line of Hamlet’s I intend to invoke here.  It is apposite, however, because events have begun proving my predictions from last year about what it would mean to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the US military.

Repealing DADT isn’t about gays serving.  They already serve.  Repealing DADT is about gays telling.  It’s about achieving endorsement of homosexuality, and gay activist agenda items, through both military regulation and military culture.

I made the point here, and will make it again, that it is not possible for the military to merely “tolerate” openly-avowed homosexuality, in the way civilians think of tolerating it.  What the military does now, with DADT, is tolerate homosexuality.  It officially doesn’t ask, and doesn’t even want to know, unless one servicemember’s activities create a discipline or readiness problem.  (As many people correctly point out, there are a whole lot of ways of creating discipline problems, and junior enlisted personnel ingeniously push the envelope on all of them.  It certainly isn’t just gays who sometimes create discipline and readiness problems.)

What the military does under DADT is more analogous than not to what you do – you civilians, in your civilian lives – to tolerate homosexuality.  DADT was designed and intended to prevent people’s sexual orientation from becoming an issue on which there had to be confrontation, for either individuals or the institution.  It was intended to keep the military out of the business that repeal will inevitably get it into:  the business of taking sides on the issue of homosexuality.

The military operates wholly on affirmative policy.  That means that it either approves things or bans them; there is no neutral state, if the thing at issue is officially acknowledged.  The military is, moreover, a “lifestyle” organization, meaning – as servicemembers themselves say – it owns you 24/7.  It can’t tell you what to think, but it tells you what to act like you think – and it metes out punishment (in performance evaluations and advancement as well as military justice) to those who don’t act like they think the institutionally required things.

The military also welcomes your spouse and children and offers them a host of support services.  And as veterans of the “military family” know, that comes with a whole regulatory and cultural environment of its own.  One four-year hitch may not be enough to familiarize a young spouse with this truth, but any military wife, husband, or child of a career servicemember would validate it.  From housing to recreation to exchange retail services to the post chapel, if the military acknowledges homosexuality at all, it will have to have affirmative policy regarding endorsements and recognition, and/or regulation, of people’s behavior.

Are you aware that the military has explicit regulations covering cosmetic tattooing?  It doesn’t prohibit cosmetic tattooing (e.g., having your eyelids permanently darkened) for female service personnel.  So it regulates the practice – just as it regulates hair length and style for all servicemembers, the jewelry with which they can adorn themselves – both while in uniform and, in some cases, while out of uniform – and how they keep their fingernails.  It also regulates, of course, their weight and body fat content.

The military offers religious ministries for recognized religions.  But if your religion isn’t a major, recognized religion, the military doesn’t offer you services.  It has an affirmative policy on that.  In fact, its policy has been under challenge from Wiccans, some of whom claim status as a religion and have demanded recognition by the military.

The military has an affirmative policy on what it will sell in the exchange retail system, including men’s magazines and where they will be displayed.  It has affirmative policies at every major base regarding personal behavior, including “public displays of affection,” or PDA, at the recreational facilities (ballfields, swimming pools, hobby shops).  It has policies on where males and females can gather together and where they can’t.

And in its personnel evaluation systems, it assesses servicemembers explicitly on their energy in, and aptitude for, upholding the services’ policies against social bias.  Today, the military requires no affirmation from servicemembers, for their tolerance of homosexuality to be tacitly assumed.  If DADT is repealed, and homosexuality openly acknowledged in official military policy, the basis will then exist for gay servicemembers to complain if others do not affirm them, in whatever ways the military – and Congress, and the courts – arrange.

This is how it will play out, and we are seeing the first signs of it already.  Allahpundit wrote week before last about the “disinvitation” of Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, from a devotional speaking engagement at a prayer luncheon on Andrews Air Force Base, reportedly due to Perkins’ “recent public comments” about repealing DADT.  As AP said, it’s hard to find any “recent public comments” from Perkins that would seem to warrant a disinvitation from a devotional event for political reasons.

But that’s how things work in the military.  And the truth is, you want them to work that way.  It’s not the military’s job to host speakers from both sides of every issue it might become embroiled in.  That’s time-consuming, eats away at leadership’s working hours, it’s inherently political anyway, and it’s just not what the military is there for.  Congress, the Heritage Foundation, the Center for American Progress, the New York Times, Glenn Beck’s show, Hot Air, HuffPo – all that messy political stuff is what they exist for.

So the military tries to head off at the pass any prospect of becoming embroiled in inherently political disputes.  It knows full well that gay advocacy groups will make it a political issue if someone who is known to oppose repeal of DADT is a specially-invited speaker at a military-hosted prayer luncheon.  So rather than let the whole thing become a political mess, the military takes preemptive action.

This is what the military is going to do at every decision point.  Get used to it.  If DADT is repealed, your military will be endorsing things you would vote against.  It will be endorsing things you would keep your kids away from when they’re done in public.  And it will become the battleground for gay advocacy groups wanting to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, which provides that the federal government recognizes only traditional marriage, and that traditional-marriage states need not recognize gay marriages concluded elsewhere.

The challenge to DOMA is already being mounted as part of the military study on repeal of DADT.  It had to be.  This had to happen, and it was easy to foresee long ago, which is why I predicted it last year.  Gay partners will of course demand the same family services and acknowledgment of relationships that traditional families get in the military.  And of course, the Defense Department will be governed in this matter by DOMA.  Changing what DOD does will mean gutting DOMA or getting it overturned.  However the issue is handled, it will become a precedent for every other federal agency and all the states, and is likely to generate a flood of new lawsuits.

Keep in mind, none of this will be about military readiness or the ability of anyone to do his job.  Those have been the issues at the heart of the political confrontation over women in the military.  Women are smaller than men and not as physically strong; there is justification for being concerned about their ability to do some jobs.  Women also get pregnant and present a specific discipline and readiness concern that doesn’t arise without their presence in forward-operating units.

The big difference between “women in the military” as an issue and “open gay service” as an issue is that the former is about readiness.  The latter is just about official recognition of sexual orientation.  There is no question gay men and women can do any military job that other men and women can.  The central question with proposing to repeal DADT isn’t readiness at all, it’s politics.  It boils down to whether the military will be required to recognize and endorse homosexuality.  DADT allows the military to be neutral, and servicemembers to avoid declaring their sentiments one way or the other.  If it is repealed, neither will remain possible.

And one final note is that that’s not because of what the military is.  It’s because of what America is.  If the US military could acknowledge homosexuality and yet also allow others in the ranks to believe it’s wrong and refrain from endorsing it, or even just allow them despise it, shy away from it, or crack jokes about it, as young men in particular often do, there would be no problem.  That’s how some other militaries come to terms with open homosexuality:  they let straights who don’t want to endorse it go their own way.  This means – yes – gays sometimes get their feelings hurt.  It may even mean they are discriminated against unofficially, by seniors who base judgments about them (e.g., regarding promotion) in part on their sexual orientation and lifestyle.  The seniors may even be right – as they are likely to be, much of the time – and they aren’t then second-guessed as an institutional operating principle, or assumed to be wrong or to have unlawfully discriminatory “thoughts” in their heads.  (None of this means gays have no recourse against being assaulted, of course; they have that because they are human beings, not because they’re gay.)

But we don’t do it that way in the USA.  The reason repealing DADT must mean the military will put its institutional imprimatur on homosexuality, and require everyone in uniform to demonstrate fealty to the military’s affirmative endorsement of it, is that in the USA, we coerce institutional closed-mindedness by not only punishing thought and speech with litigation, but actively seeking thought and speech to punish.

You may have the courage, personally, to defy a Senate investigation and a bank of activist lawyers – but you wouldn’t if you had the military in your charge, and your main job was being ready to fight and win America’s wars.  If you were in that position, you’d roll over; you’d do whatever it takes to fend off the political circus-freak show and concentrate on readiness, operations, and the job you signed up for.  If your conscience wouldn’t let you make the affirmations America’s political culture now extorts at gun-point, you’d serve out your time and separate from the service.

It’s not the military’s job to fight back against America’s political leaders.  That’s your job.  I recommend undertaking it armed with knowledge.  Pay attention to what the gay advocacy groups are demanding, and watch the military react.  Understand what the advocacy groups want to do, and remember how defenseless the military has been in the past, against political correctness enforced by ending the careers of long-serving officers.  The fear of punishment for breaching political correctness is what gave us the fiery death of Navy Lieutenant Kara Hultgreen – the aviator who should never have been allowed to continue in the carrier pipeline – and the jihadist massacre by the Army’s Fort Hood shooter, whose personnel jacket glowed neon-red well before his attack last fall.

Political correctness is inherent in military culture.  What the American people decide is what its precepts are.  Please think well before you decide on this one.  This isn’t about gays serving; they already do, and for the most part with honor.  This is about gays telling – with everything that may imply.

Cross-posted at Hot Air’s Greenroom.


  1. Wow! What a thought provoking post. I served 4 years in the Navy (69-73) so I know you’re right about this J.E.

    I am concerned however that many civilians may find your reasoning a bit difficult to follow.

    I think you get to the heart of the unintended consequences when you say, “If the US military could acknowledge homosexuality and yet also allow others in the ranks to believe it’s wrong and refrain from endorsing it,…, there would be no problem.”

    Which naturally leads to the profoundest of questions; what of religious freedom?

    Evangelical Christians, Observant Jews and almost all Muslims cannot retain their religious freedom and NOT believe it to be wrong and sinful behavior. That’s what their religion teaches.

    I fully accept your assertions as to the real agenda of gay advocacy being the seeking of the active endorsement of homosexuality and that the military will be compelled to offer it.

    BUT that also inherently requires that the military deny religious freedom.

  2. It is interesting how small are those religious groups that that object on religious grounds to homosexuality, as listed by Geoffrey. The list testifies to the fact that mainsteam Protestantism and Catholicism have been turned or at least rendered mute on this issue by the homosexual advance. In fact, this process within religious bodies parallels that JED describes as necessary for the armed forced.

    Once there is “recognition” of gays, however grudging and with whatever “hate the sin, love the sinner” justification, it becomes very difficult for members of the organization, even leaders, to declare opposition to the practice. Doing so is taken to mean directly attacking the individuality of the sinner, because gays, unlike fornicators, adulterers, and others who practice sex condemned in the Bible, consider–and insist that everyone else consider–their sexual orientation to be a defining trait, “who they are.”

    How would we respond to this argument from, say, John Edwards: “Hey, I’m an adulterous male. We are X percent of the population. It’s bred in the bone! Your disapproval is actually a phobia, irrational, unhealthy and unattractive.” And what if he then went further, and argued, “Marriage should be redefined so I can express my sexual orientation through it just as others do.” (Note that marriage is now considered a way to express sexuality rather than a way to shelter children.)

    I don’t think that mainline Christianity will find its way back to its roots, or to a commonsense view on this issue. So its leaders will have no trouble accommodating themselves to the requirements of the military actively to approve of homosexual practice.

  3. Replace “gay” with “black” and you still sound like the bigot you are.

  4. Full disclosure: I say this as a black woman whose girlfriend has done six tours in Iraq. 🙂

  5. Sue, your indignant response does not change anybody’s mind. You’re free to think and feel what you want! If you want a debate that will make a difference, please do the research and serious thought that J.E. does and then present it.

    • What serious thought has the opticon expressed other than saying that DADT should be opposed because it will require that members of the military not discriminate against other members because of sexual preference?
      It’s a very thoughtful bit of anti-anti-discrimination perhaps, but it still reduces to an advocacy of bigotry.

  6. Thanks, Stephanie. I feel sure Sue could come up with something better if she gave it some thought.

    GB — I hope it’s not too hard for civilians to follow. I know it’s a bit more complex than the misleading idea that servings gays just want to be able to acknowledge who they are. (If that’s all that could possibly happen, there’d be no issue. But the history of politics and litigation from the last 40-50 years demonstrates clearly that it’s not.)

    But the points here and in my previous posts ought to ring true with people, because the atmosphere of litigated privilege, and intimidation of decisionmakers by threatening their careers, has already been created in other organizations. Anyone who troubles to read my July 2009 post will see that every incident in it is documented.

    Margo — you know, while I think you may be right about mainline Protestant denominations and some elements of the Catholic Church, there’s a transformation already underway — not in the doctrines of those organizations, but in their attendance and membership numbers.

    Evangelical Protestantism is by far the fastest-growing of the world’s religions, in America as well as elsewhere. How big it is in one’s local community depends on where one lives, but it’s huge in parts of the US (like my area of California) where the mainline denominations have been alienating their congregations for 3 decades with political leftism as a subsitute for teaching and worship.

    One thing about non-denominational evangelicalism is that it attracts people from different races and cultures particularly well. If you’re going to see Latinos AND Koreans AND Vietnamese AND black AND white AND Indian all attending the same church, it’s probably a non-denominational evangelical one.

    In some ways this has been a movement away from direct political engagement, as with the various organizations that have been active since the mid-1970s. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Christianity isn’t about concentrating on Caesar’s realm anyway.

    That doesn’t mean Christians shouldn’t work in the system and favor certain outcomes, in their capacity as citizens. But it does mean that political partisanship isn’t what the CHURCH is here for. The trend in the ’70s-90s toward explicitly involving organized Christianity in political battles was one with a lot of drawbacks and perils.

    One very positive aspect of the Tea Party movement is that it seems to have a lot of Christians in it, but they are involving themselves as citizens, not as representatives of a church or religious organization. I think that’s a development in the right direction.

  7. It seems to me that the heart of J.E.’s assertions and the resultant consequence have yet to be confronted.

    Perhaps if I shorten J.E.’s key assertion, it will be inescapable; “If the US military could acknowledge homosexuality and yet also allow others in the ranks to … refrain from endorsing it,…, there would be no problem.”

    As I interpret it, what J.E. is saying is that if DADT is abandoned then, the US military will be compelled to endorse homosexuality. And that, refusing to endorse homosexuality, by anyone in the military, won’t be an option. Understand, we’re talking active approval and support, not merely acquiescence and that support must be 24/7…

    What that inevitably results in is denial of religious freedom. As a member of the military, all would be compelled to approve of and support homosexuality, regardless of religious belief.

    So, Johnny has two mommies but no father and Suzy has two daddies but no mommy will not just be accepted but all will be compelled to approve of and actively support that arrangement.

    And if an Evangelical Christian, Jew or Muslim is attending a Church, Synagogue or Mosque where homosexuality is actively disapproved of, then how can that service member be said to be approving of and actively supporting homosexuality?

    Which the military now insists that they do… so wouldn’t the military be placed in the position of deciding which Church’s beliefs are incompatible with military doctrine and therefore deciding which Church’s the military could belong to?

    Wouldn’t entire sects, ones with millions of members, be either prohibited or forced to change their Church doctrines?

    And, if the military is forced to sit in judgment of religious beliefs, then where is the religious freedom?

    Which leads to the other shoe dropping, if we abandon religious freedom, what’s next?

  8. Geoffrey, I didn’t mean to seem to disagree with you. Absolutely, we are talking about coercing believers–and as JED points out, at least one big population of believers–into actively endorsing homosexual activity.

    • Margo,

      My impression was that you were just making your own points, not disagreeing with me per se. Perhaps I missed it but it appeared to me that no one in the comments has directly addressed what I believe to be the profoundest of the unintended consequences that shall result from abandoning DADT.

      Namely, how does the military endorsing homosexuality not force some members to give up their religious freedom? It appears to be inherent and thus inescapable, in implementing such a decision.

  9. Geoffrey, how is anyone’s religious freedom compromised by allowing openly homosexual people in the military?

    Is there some religion that requires it’s members to both discriminate against homosexuals and also to join the US military?

    Either this is a very odd religion or a very odd assertion.

    • For many fuster it won’t be a problem at all.

      J.E., through her military expertise and acumen has pointed out the unintended consequence of abandoning the DADT policy.

      In the military, which only bears distant relation to civilian life, this is the issue:

      “it is not possible for the military to merely “tolerate” openly-avowed homosexuality, in the way civilians think of tolerating it. (What the military does now, with DADT, is tolerate homosexuality. It officially doesn’t ask, and doesn’t even want to know, unless one service member’s activities create a discipline or readiness problem.)”

      Repeal of DADT will, due to the military’s culture and regulations, inevitably force it into the business of taking sides on the issue of homosexuality.

      “The military operates wholly on affirmative policy. That means that it either approves things or bans them; there is no neutral state, if the thing at issue is officially acknowledged.

      The military is, moreover, a “lifestyle” organization, meaning – as service members themselves say – it owns you 24/7. It can’t tell you what to think, but it tells you what to act like you think – and it metes out punishment (in performance evaluations and advancement as well as military justice) to those who don’t act like they think, the institutionally required things.” (so as to get you to comply, resistance is futile;-)

      “The military also welcomes your spouse and children and offers them a host of support services. And as veterans of the “military family” know, that comes with a whole regulatory and cultural environment of its own… From housing to recreation to exchange retail services to the post chapel, if the military acknowledges homosexuality at all, it will have to have affirmative policy regarding endorsements and recognition, and/or regulation, of people’s behavior.”

      “The military has an affirmative policy on what it will sell in the exchange retail system, including men’s magazines and where they will be displayed. It has affirmative policies at every major base regarding personal behavior… It has policies on where males and females can gather together and where they can’t.

      And in its personnel evaluation systems, it assesses service members explicitly on their energy in, and aptitude for, upholding the services’ policies against social bias. (Today, the military requires no affirmation from service members, for their tolerance of homosexuality to be tacitly assumed.) If DADT is repealed, and homosexuality openly acknowledged in official military policy, the basis will then exist for gay service members to complain if others do not affirm them, in whatever ways the military – and Congress, and the courts – arrange.”

      So, now that hopefully JE’s point is clear, the inevitability of religious discrimination is obvious. Any religion that is biased against homosexuality is promoting a view that will be verbotten in the military. And, military policy will be that, regardless of religious belief, everyone has to act as if they approve of and support homosexuality. A look, a grimace, anything that a homosexual decides is non-affirmative, may be grounds for complaint.

      And, even if someone says nothing offensive, if they are attending a church that regards homosexuality as sinful… how can they be genuinely supportive of homosexuality? Just by being an Evangelical Christian, Orthodox Jew or Muslim they will be in violation of military policy.

      In which case, sayonara religious freedom.

  10. I understood that part Geoffrey.
    What I fail to grasp is how military policy that conflicts with personal belief is a denial of freedom as long as military service is voluntary.
    When the LDS proclaimed that black people were black as a sign of God’s disfavor, I suppose that they, when drafted and unable to avoid service, had a right to feel upset that the military had ended segregation.

    Now, no one is required to serve.

  11. It’s true that the military is voluntary. So what you’re saying is that anyone can join… as long as they believe the ‘right’ things.

    You also fail to address the issue of the millions of service members that will be in the military when this takes effect. What are they supposed to do? Only officers have the option of resigning their commissions. For the vastly greater in numbers enlisted, you present them with the ‘choice’ of yielding their unalienable right to religious freedom or being in direct violation of military policy.

    Then, there is the predictable nature of the force the US shall be reduced to, since liberals make up a small percentage of the military, which is overwhelmingly conservative.

    That is of importance as liberals are not known for a willingness to use violence unquestionably when directed to do so by ‘authority figures’. But military discipline is not an option in war, unquestioned obedience is critical to victory.

    In war, its often ‘the Sack of Troy’ for the loser. Will liberals volunteer in much greater numbers so as to compensate adequately for conservatives leaving the military? I for one, don’t think so, do you?

    If conservatives abandon service in a military that they no longer relate too and liberals do not volunteer to serve in an ‘anachronistic and obsolete’ military, what shall you do when the ‘barbarian is at the gates’? Send such as Obama, Pelosi and Reid out to meet them?

    And, if you respond with doubt or even derision at the very notion of the “barbarians at the gate” and its predictable certainty when they sense vulnerability, then you are a fool who deserves no less than the fate to which your gullibility condemns you.

    But we shall not deserve the fate that the ideological obtuseness of the liberal also condemned us to and liberals will be entirely to blame but this time, some of us will not forget.

    • no Geoffrey, I’m saying that anyone may join, believe whatever they wish, and ACT in accordance with military regulations.
      If anyone holds the belief that homosexual conduct is sinful, they will not be required to engage in it. They will be required to perform their duties along side of homosexual comrades. They may still regard these comrades as engaging in sin, but they must treat them according to their job performance.
      the rest of the federal government manages, the military will as well.

      that unquestioned obedience you cite will be but little strained.

  12. The main thing fuster has failed to address is why religious believers should have to refrain from joining the military in order to avoid being sued, sanctioned, or otherwise punished for “slights” PERCEIVED by others due merely to the fact of their religious beliefs.

    What American political value is being served or upheld by this outcome?

    No one should ever have to affirm that it’s great to be gay in order to be able to hold a job or get promoted in America. If he is asked point blank, he should be free to say he thinks homosexual activity is a sin, and suffer no sanctions in his professional life. But as a starting principle, no one should even ask him.

    If the military begins celebrating Gay Pride month — and it WILL begin celebrating Gay Pride month if DADT is repealed — everyone in uniform will be subject to the question whether he thinks it’s great to be gay.

    A government whose organizations are executing policy with features like this is a government that is too intrusive. There is no valid function of government that necessarily entails declarations from citizens, in any capacity, about either their sexual preferences or their feelings about the sexual preferences of others.

    Of all the functions of government that do NOT validly entail such declarations, running a military is at the top of the list.

  13. feathers and fluff, opticon. religious believers will have the exact same freedom to join or not.
    the notion that their thoughts will be subject to inspection remains the same set of nonsense that it always has been.
    conduct, kid, conduct is what is regulated.
    you offer warmed-up versions of the arguments offered previously for maintaining a military segregated by religion, then race, then gender.

  14. Such disingenuousness as yours deserves prizes, fuster.

    You know perfectly well that lawsuits are brought and policy is made based on the perceived thoughts behind conduct-as-interpreted-for-the-purposes-of-litigation. That’s how it’s been done in the USA for the last 40-odd years.

    If you agree that merely thinking that homosexual activity is a sin constitutes discriminatory conduct against gays, regardless of the setting (social, professional, commercial, whatever), then of course you won’t allow the distinction I’m making.

    But, of course, you are also simply wrong. And you are anyway. You obviously know nothing about how the military works.

  15. maybe it’s not disingenuousness as much as disbelieve that you’re allowing a rather good intellect be so shoddily represented.
    you keep putting forth the same lame duckbutter.
    those lawsuits have to be won, not merely brought and if you were more forthcoming you would admit that it’s just one more set of the same type of suit that the military and it’s personnel deal with.

    I don’t agree that thinking that homosexuality is a sin any more than I agree that adherence to religious literalism is sinful.
    I do agree that my public conduct toward religious literalists, while performing my military service, should be subject to regulation.

  16. You actually said it?

    But neither was it the “norm” for women in the military to bring lawsuits alleging discrimination and prejudice, particularly in regard to skill qualification or promotion. Nevertheless, a few did, and the cases in which senior officers saw their careers end due to such allegations – very hard to prove one way or the other – were instructive for an entire generation, in ways that did not benefit military cohesion or performance.

    And thus, I guess, openly female persons should not have been allowed to serve in the military.
    It caused disruption, brought on lawsuits, changed behavior for the worse to avoid those lawsuits, and the conformity in military life caused the men in the military to act as if they didn’t mind serving along with women or face negative consequence.
    The military has not survived intact this horror and imposition. The many people belonging to religious groups that stress the fundamental differences between men and women as requiring that women not serve in certain functions have had their religious liberty voided.

  17. Sorry for getting into the mix so late in the game here.

    J.E., I’d put Australia as the closest thing to the USA we have on this earth, so I’ll use the Aussies for my purposes here. Unless I’m mistaken, they allow openly gay people to serve in their military. As far as I can tell, it hasn’t caused any significant ramifications (or has it??). You clearly think that we are a different enough society from Australia that it *would* have significant ramifications here where it does not there? Are we too litigious? Is it that we have a culture that is that much more conservative or religious?Another reason?

    I *want* to be able to support the policy of having openly gay people serve in the military, but I can’t quite get there for the very reasons you’ve explained above.

    No worries if you don’t answer this – I realize the statute of limitations has passed on this post.

  18. RE — it’s our litigiousness, and our universalist perspective on principles established by law, that make our armed forces such a bad place to repeal DADT.

    Let me try putting it this way. The whole time I was in the Navy, which was nearly 21 years, I never once heard a Christian, Jew, or Muslim talk about homosexuality being a sin. Many religious believers held that view, but chaplains never preached on it, and I never heard it discussed in a Bible study, or in adult Sunday school onboard ship or in base or post chapels. It wasn’t a topic for wardroom discussion. Chiefs didn’t sit around jawing about it in the “goat locker.” Young sailors and soldiers might joke about the occasional gay topic or reference among themselves, but there was no attempt whatsoever by religious believers to proselytize, or discuss it as a matter of morality or religion. It really didn’t come up.

    On the occasions when it did get discussed, the reason was always — always — that there had had to be a disciplinary action related to homosexuality. As I said in the post above, this was either because someone had made unwanted advances to a shipmate, or because a junior enlistee was looking for a way to get discharged.

    Not once did I ever hear anyone discuss these incidents in religious or moral terms. People kept their personal feelings about that to themselves.

    And this is critical: we kept our personal feelings to ourselves because we were able to. Nothing erupted during the work day to confront us and demand declarations one way or the other.

    That will change if DADT is repealed. In other countries, in spite of the fact that most of them have gone further down the path of economic socialism, there’s a sort of “social contract” that protects freedom of religious thought for those who have religious objections to homosexuality.

    I really urge you to read my July 2009 article to understand what’s going to come up for the US military if DADT is repealed. Just to take two examples, consider the San Diego firemen who were required by their supervisor to march in the gay pride parade. Other nations do better in this regard than we do: the idea that a supervisor could order you to march in a gay pride parade would be ridiculous. But of course it not only happened here, it was followed, inevitably, by a lawsuit. The judge eventually ruled that it wasn’t improper for the firemen to be required to march in the parade, but they could sue for damages because they were leered at and manhandled during the event.

    The other example is the LA policeman who read a Bible passage at a private funeral service, and was complained about by gay co-workers afterward because the passage contained a glancing reference to “sexual impurity” as one of the things to avoid. (Apparently, the point of reading the passage was that the deceased had been a good example of the qualities a Christian should EMBRACE. The policeman in question read the whole passage, which lists bad traits versus good ones.)

    The policeman was the subject of a flood of EEO complaints from the gay officers’ association, was moved from precinct to precinct and was denied promotion 9 times in spite of performing well on the exam and having a spotless record. Co-workers told the LA Times he never said anything slighting about gays that they were aware of, and that he was a stand-up guy.

    In other countries — Great Britain and Canada excepted, unfortunately — people are much more likely to live and let live in this regard. The gay political militancy in the US — which is not, of course, universal, and I’m sure represents a minority of gays — is nevertheless more pervasive and lawyer-enabled than it is in most places overseas.

    The track record of militant gay advocacy means people in the military WILL be required to declare themselves on what they’ve had the latitude to remain silent on up to now. No one should have to present himself to stand in formation and affirm someone else’s sexual orientation, but the US military is where that will happen, if DADT is repealed. No one should suffer any retribution if he objects to affirming someone else’s sexual orientation. No one should suffer retribution for reading a Bible passage off-duty that requires invidious interpretation to be regarded as a slur on gays anyway. But the US military is where these wrongs will be inflicted, if DADT is repealed.

    I hate to channel Goldwater ’64, but I have to say it. You know in your heart this is what will happen. The military won’t set out to make policy with these explicit features. But through “trial” (pun intended) and error, it will back its way into the policy of requiring a list of “stock” affirmations about homosexuality, as a DEFENSIVE measure. Gay plaintiffs will lodge complaints about hostile work environments and unequal treatment, and the military will have to come up with affirmative policy that requires specific manifestations from everyone in uniform, lest complaints continue.

    The thing about all this is that the issue is people’s sexual orientation. It’s different from skin color or gender. We know those facts about each other without any declarations being made. We can’t help knowing them. There was some legitimacy to at least discussing the concerns about unit solidarity, esprit de corps, and unit effectiveness when blacks and whites were being integrated in the military, and women were being admitted to more and more warfare communities. The central question in those cases was whether the military units would perform as they were supposed to if people whose differences from each other were inherent and obvious were put together.

    With repealing DADT, that’s not the issue. No one has to know Joe is gay, and no one has to know Jim thinks homsexuality is a sin, just by walking into a room and standing across from one of them. Moreover, Joe and Jim are probably pretty much evenly matched in terms of upper-body strength and ability to run for long periods carrying heavy stuff.

    The idea that it enhances military readiness if Joe can declare his sexual orientation, and Jim must become subject to surveillance and sanction regarding his opinion of it, ought to be manifestly absurd. Repealing DADT isn’t about integrating different people into the same service, it’s about making the service different.

  19. J.E., Very kind of you to take the time to respond to my question. Thanks for that. I have no doubt that the repeal of DADT will result in law suits and new absurd military postures (your writings on the topic are quite detailed and impressivle exhaustive). That will be a travesty.

    Haha!! Side note here, I’m watching a movie called PCU (starring Jeremy Piven). PCU is for Port Chester University, but the unofficial nickname is Politically Correct University – every grievance and identity group organizes on campus. Piven, a student, is politically INcorrect and is hated. Someone just screamed at him a litany of wrongs that need to be righted, including “Gays in the military!!” What perfect timing!

    OK, back to our regularly scheduled program. While I agreed with you about what would result if DADT was appealed. I wasn’t quite clear why we would have more upheaval than other countries who have already have gays serving openly. You have answered my question, and again I thank you for taking the time to do so.

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