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Army Should Train Eligible Linguists Only

On Veterans Day 1992, then-President-elect Bill Clinton announced that he would fulfill his campaign promise to permit open homosexuality in the military. Clinton failed in that effort, but ten years later, homosexual activists are adjusting their strategy. Instead of pushing "civil rights" and "equal opportunity" for gays, they are trying to use the War on Terrorism to advance their agenda.


In a New Republic article, New York University history Professor Nathaniel Frank denounced the Army for honorably discharging homosexual language trainees from the Army’s Defense Language Institute (DLI), just because they are gay. To listen to columnist Andrew Sullivan, the Washington Post editorial page (Nov. 20), and the activist Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) the loss of these men (and at least one woman) is a national security catastrophe.


Prof. Frank described the trainees as "fully competent Arabic linguists," even though they had not finished the course or earned that designation. He also called for elimination of the military’s 10 year-old "interim policy" regarding homosexuals. Both characterizations are typical of misinformation produced by the California-based Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, where he is Senior Research Fellow.


DISCIPLINE AT DLI


The Army was fully justified--indeed, obligated--to discharge the trainees, seven of whom invited that action by admitting they were homosexuals. Two more men were discharged shortly after they were found in bed together. Frank lamented the unfairness of it all because the two men, who had been dating for eight months, decided to "risk one night of sleeping side by side." One of them was about to be transferred elsewhere.


It is not necessary to literally catch people "in the act" in order to enforce the law. Absent extenuating circumstances indicating otherwise, the statute presumes that one who claims to be a homosexual has, will, or is likely to engage in the conduct that defines what homosexuality is.


The 1993 law, which has been upheld as constitutional several times, is conduct based. It does not rely on amorphous concepts such as sexual orientation or vague preferences.


WHAT THE LAW ACTUALLY SAYS


In a series of statutory findings, Congress affirmed that:

· "There is no constitutional right to serve in the armed forces;

· "Military life is fundamentally different from civilian life;"

· There are "numerous restrictions on personal behavior that would not be acceptable in civilian life;"

· Conditions are often "spartan, primitive, and characterized by forced intimacy with little or no privacy;"

· Standards of conduct apply to members of the armed forces "at all times...whether the member is on base or off base…on duty or off duty;" and

· "The armed forces must maintain personnel policies that exclude persons...who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts, [which] 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."

(The full text and an analysis of 10 U.S.C. Par. 654 are posted elsewhere on this website under Issues/Gays in the Military)

On November 18, columnist Deroy Murdock denounced the Bush Administration’s "inexplicable enforcement of...President Clinton’s Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell law." (National Review Online) But contrary to widespread misinformation, Bill Clinton’s "don’t ask, don’t tell" plan to accommodate homosexuals in the military was never inscribed in law.

On the contrary, after thousands of phone calls and letters from constituents, months of field trips and twelve congressional hearings, Congress voted with bi-partisan, veto-proof majorities for statutory language that codified long-standing Defense Department regulations affirming, "homosexuality is incompatible with military service."

The only "compromise" involved was the ill-advised agreement to drop the routine "question" about homosexuality that used to appear on induction forms. The law, however, still authorizes restoration of that question at any time by the Secretary of Defense.

President Clinton signed the law, but then his Defense Department knowingly promulgated "don’t ask, don’t tell" enforcement regulations designed to circumvent it. In 1996, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law but criticized the Defense Department for issuing inconsistent enforcement regulations. (Thomasson v. Perry)

The SLDN has taken advantage of the regulatory confusion to mislead young homosexuals with false assurances that they are eligible to serve in the military. The truth is that everyone can serve his or her country in some way, but not always in uniform.

WHY WERE GAY STUDENTS ADMITTED TO DLI IN THE FIRST PLACE?

The most important question to ask about the homosexual students dismissed from the Defense Language Institute is why they were allowed to enter in the first place. For many months, they occupied spaces that could have been offered to eligible trainees who could have been learning Arabic, Korean, Farsi, and other languages valuable in the War on Terrorism. Instead DLI tolerated a situation that was an unconscionable waste of time and resources.

According to Prof. Frank’s New Republic article, the language school located at the Presidio of Monterey drew many students from the Northern California gay community. A former gay student said that "There were way too many gay people at DLI for anybody to fear the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy." He added, "I knew someone who was a flaming queen in a uniform, and nobody cared. Sometimes we lived on halls that were more than 50% percent homosexual...I never even got a sideways glance."

It is unclear whether this description is accurate, since DLI has not returned phone calls or issued any statement in response. CMR has therefore asked Pentagon officials to begin a formal investigation to answer the following questions:

· Are reports of a "gay-friendly" atmosphere at DLI true or false?

· If an undisciplined environment exists now or previously at DLI, are school officials being held accountable?

· Why were homosexual trainees recruited or sent to DLI, since they were not eligible to serve in uniform?

· What kinds of training materials were used to explain the 1993 law to incoming students and school administrators?

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO RESOLVE THE PROBLEM

The DLI situation is only one of several recent cases in which people received costly military education and training, only to announce their homosexuality and leave. It is long past time for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to eliminate such policies, which are costing the services valuable time and money. The following actions, for example, would serve the national interest by reducing confusion and personnel costs:

1. ELIMINATE CLINTON’S "DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL" REGULATIONS President Bush has a constitutional responsibility to enforce the 1993 statute that excludes homosexuals from the military. He has no obligation to retain or enforce the Bill Clinton’s problematic "don’t ask, don’t tell" regulations, which are inconsistent with the law. For purposes of clarity, the Clinton regulations must be dropped without further delay.

2. REINSTATE THE "QUESTION" ON INDUCTION FORMS Restoration of the routine question about homosexuality would help to improve understanding and enforcement of the law. The absence of such a question suggests that the armed forces are willing to assume the risk that some inductees will be less than truthful. This is a risk that is not worth taking. Secretary Rumsfeld should exercise his authority to restore routine inquiries about homosexuality, together with questions about medical conditions and other factors that affect deployability.

3. PROVIDE ACCURATE INFORMATION Unlike the SLDN website, which is full of misleading advice to homosexuals interested in the military, the Defense Department must provide accurate information on the law and congressional intent, and scrap all training materials that promote Clinton-era fictions. The worst example is a 30-page Army comic book, titled "Dignity and Respect," which promotes Clinton's "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy but fails to provide accurate information about the 1993 law. (See Mar. CMR Notes)

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Management Charles Abell recently assured CMR President Elaine Donnelly that the Army comic book is being phased out. That is good news, but still not enough. The Defense Department also should issue new training materials that include the actual text of the 1993 law and the concise House and Senate Reports that accompanied it.

4. IMPROVE RECRUITING STRATEGIES To meet the need for skilled linguists, the services should step up efforts to recruit qualified candidates, and to direct special appeals to patriotic young people who want to fight terrorism. The perception that the Defense Language Institute is "gay friendly" could have a negative effect on recruiting.

The Bush Administration has done an excellent job enforcing the Solomon Amendment, a 1996 measure sponsored by the late Congressman Gerald Solomon and supported by CMR, which requires schools and colleges to provide fair access for military recruiters and ROTC units on campus. This makes far more sense than the Army’s co-sponsorship of Ad Council advertisements designed to appeal to single mothers and former junior delinquents. (See www.operationgraduation.com)

Gay activists and their allies in the media are trying to wrap their radical agenda in the flag of "national security" and "military necessity." This should fool no one who supports the armed forces. The Department of Defense has a critical need for expert linguists and translators who are eligible to serve, not men or women who are not. In the interests of national security, social engineering must be brought to an end.

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