Congress Ignored Perils of Lifting Military’s Gay Ban
Sept. 20 is an important day for gay activists because it marks the official repeal of the military’s 1993 homosexual exclusion law (10 U.S.C. § 654). This happened because the gay-beholden Democrats held power and not because there was a shred of evidence repeal would improve the armed forces. Now our war-weary, all-volunteer military must cope with the consequences of that decision.
Those consequences could be significant, but the American public has no clue, because the 111th Democrat-controlled Congress repealed the ban in a “lame-duck” session without hearing a single dissenting view. And President Obama hid behind the cover of a politically inspired Pentagon report marred by poor research and improper activities meant to mislead Congress.
President Obama used his 2010 State of the Union address to call for repeal of the homosexual exclusion law. The following week, then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates testified, “We have received our orders,” and subsequently he launched a review to examine the “issues associated with repeal of the law.” Gates’ review never considered whether lifting the ban was right, but only on mitigating the consequences.
That review included a problem-plagued survey that failed to ask critical questions such as, “Do you favor lifting the homosexual ban?” and it used non-random sampling. Then it biased the results to support Obama’s repeal agenda.
The Pentagon Inspector General (IG) exposed the review’s politically inspired bias. Last November, the Washington Post published leaked information from the Pentagon’s review claiming 70% of the military would have no problem serving with open homosexuals. The IG said in an April 2011 report that the leak was meant “to gain momentum in support of a legislative change during the ‘lame duck’ session of Congress following the Nov. 2, 2010, elections.”
Not surprisingly the Obama Pentagon failed to correct the unauthorized and misleading report, which was cited in Congress as fact. The same survey data (question 68a of the July 2010 Pentagon poll) that was used to generate the 70% report can be restated to support a very different conclusion: In fact 62% of the military predicted at least some negative effects from repeal, while only 18% predicted positive effects.
Congress ignored many report flaws, including the following:
The Pentagon report admits “the majority of views expressed in [140 focus group sessions] were against repeal of the current policy.”
It based its “no-risk” assessment of open homosexuality for military effectiveness on a panel of 11 unidentified, nonscientific personnel.
It dismissed 67% negative views expressed by combatants by suggesting their lack of service with homosexuals feeds the negativity.
Congress has the constitutional responsibility to set military personnel policy (Article I, Section 8) and therefore deserves the blame for any adverse consequences associated with lifting the ban. Consider six possible consequences.
First, repeal created a “precedent-setting” legal quagmire for the military. William Gregor, a professor at the School of Advanced Military Studies, Fort Leavenworth, Kan., wrote in the military journal Parameters that the repealed statute “contained important military policy that extends well beyond the narrow issue of homosexual eligibility.” Specifically, six of the repealed law’s findings “defined the principles that underlie the established system of military justice and order.” Their absence creates a “litigious period of indiscipline” whereby issues such as recruitment are subject to legal challenge and reinterpretation, for example, excluding candidates for personal behaviors such as drug abuse.
Second, repeal embraces a category of people associated with high rates of a deadly sexually transmitted virus. This potentially creates higher health care costs and hurts morale.
The Pentagon admits an increase in homosexuals could increase the number of personnel who are “men who have sex with men,” and that group has the highest known risk of HIV/AIDS. But the Pentagon contends incidents of HIV/AIDS will be minimal because of regular blood testing.
But in spite of testing, the military already has battalions’ worth of HIV/AIDS-infected personnel, and many contracted the virus via homosexual sex. These thousands are nondeployable, soak up hundreds of millions of dollars in medical costs annually, and must be replaced overseas by healthy troops, a morale-busting factor.
Third, the Pentagon report dismisses heterosexual privacy concerns by arguing “gay men have learned to avoid making heterosexuals feel uncomfortable.” That is why troops will not be segregated based on sexual orientation, and besides, states the report, most privacy concerns are based on “misperceptions and stereotypes.”
It is paradoxical that few people give gender segregation a second thought due to privacy and modesty concerns, but those same people expect the military to force heterosexuals to share facilities with homosexuals. But call for co-ed sleeping and bathing facilities and the objections are loud. Who says homosexuals are any more perfect than anyone else?
Fourth, the Pentagon admits “a large number of service members raise religious and moral objections to homosexuality.” Specifically, many troops said repeal “might limit their individual freedom of expression and free exercise of religion, or require them to change their personal beliefs about the morality of homosexuality.” The Pentagon dismisses that view at its peril.
Chaplains expressed some of the most intense and sharpest views. The Pentagon promises chaplains “will not be required to perform a religious role … if doing so would be in variance with the tenets or practices of their faith.” What about chaplains’ objections to gay marriage?
This April, the chief of naval chaplains issued guidance allowing chaplains to conduct same-sex marriages in some states, but outrage temporarily sidelined that guidance. Later the Navy said it would allow chaplains to perform gay marriages where it is legal. What might happen to chaplains that preach or counsel that marriage is only between one man and one woman?
Or for that matter, what might happen to chaplains who object to having a homosexual chaplain’s assistant or hiring a gay youth worker? Religious-based objections are important among the military’s large faith community.
Fifth, Congress must monitor the impact of open homosexuality for unit effectiveness and readiness. Social scientists should measure homosexuality’s impact on effectiveness factors such as bonding and morale. The impact on readiness factors such as recruiting and retention is especially important to an all-volunteer force.
The Pentagon will soon see whether repeal has any effect on the propensity of young people to enlist. In fact, the Rand Corporation’s report on homosexuality warned military recruiting could decline7% because of repeal, and the Pentagon admits recruiting is getting harder because three-fourths of American youth fail to qualify.
Retention is a critical readiness factor. Thirteen per cent of current service members told the Pentagon’s working group repeal would shorten their future service, and another 11% said they will consider leaving sooner than planned. Congress must acknowledge that 24% of the force (341,000 personnel) is a lot of volunteers to ignore.
Finally, the Pentagon claims “strong leadership” will successfully mitigate the problems associated with lifting the ban. But “strong leadership” has yet to “solve” other social phenomena, including sexual assault. Why should Congress believe the Pentagon can do any better with homosexuality?
The Pentagon’s 2011 annual report on sexual assault exposes a massive leadership failure. Only 13.5% of total assaults are reported, says the Pentagon, because service members are “uncomfortable” with reporting or “fear reprisal.” Besides, the report indicates male victims of sexual assault vary from 6% to 20% of all incidents across the services. How will open homosexuality impact this problem?
The gay community might celebrate Sept. 20, but this date marks a major failure in Congress’ oversight of the military. It must now closely monitor the consequences associated with repeal to protect our volunteer force and quickly respond as the inevitable problems occur.