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Posted on Feb 17, 2007 Print this Article


The campaign for gays in the military keeps contradicting itself. Some advocates imply that our military is suffering grievous harm because too many homosexual members are being discharged. Actual data shows, however, that the number of discharges for homosexuality is quite small in comparison to personnel losses for other reasons, such as pregnancy or weight standard violations.

Now comes the simultaneous, contradictory claim that discharges of gay personnel are declining because gays are needed to fight in the war. This was the underlying theme in a CBS “60 Minutes” segment aired on Sunday, December 16, 2007. Focusing on an openly gay soldier who was not discharged, the program effectively mocked the military with innuendo suggesting hypocrisy.

This sort of thing has been done before, but evidence has not supported the insinuations. In 2005 the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military (CSSMM), now called the Michael D. Palm Center, claimed to have evidence that military officials can retain persons who say they are homosexual when and if they are needed to deploy in the war. A report of the Congressional Research Servicediscredited that claim, noting that “stop loss” orders are sometimes used to limit personnel turnover during a crisis, but they cannot be used to retain homosexual personnel who are subject to administrative discharge. (See pages 9-10 of the linked CRS Report.)

Under the law passed in 1993, if a military person states that he or she engages in homosexual conduct, a discharge is not issued immediately. An investigation begins, which can last several weeks. If the servicemember’s statement is found to be credible, the 1993 law authorizes the military to presume that that the person is a homosexual, and therefore not eligible to serve. At that point, the person receives an honorable discharge. Time must be allowed for an investigation, since automatic discharges would be harmful to readiness and morale.

Spinning Stories

In September 2005, a news release from the Santa Barbara-based CSSMM claimed to have evidence that homosexual service members were being retained and deployed overseas to serve the needs of war, despite the 1993 homosexual conduct law, mislabeled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” But a spokesman for the unit in question, the Forces Command Army base at Fort McPherson, Georgia, countered that argument with a clarification sent to the Center for Military Readiness via e-mail on November 15, 2006. According to Major Nate Flegler, Chief, Media Division, FORSCOM Public Affairs:

“When a Guard or Reserve unit is mobilized to active duty, Forces Command Regulation 500-3-3 . . . identifies 35 different criteria that may prevent a Soldier from deploying with his or her unit. Examples include being overweight, facing criminal prosecution, or medical problems. . . . Should a Soldier declare him or herself homosexual, a process defined not by FORMDEPS but by other regulations is begun to determine the veracity of the assertion and whether the assertion constitutes grounds to discharge the Soldier from military service. This process can last eight to ten weeks. . . . While our spokesman may have been accurately quoted as saying, “they still have to go to war and the homosexual issue is postponed until they return to the U.S. and the unit is demobilized,” we wish to clarify that the Soldier’s case is not postponed until the unit returns. The review process continues while the unit is deployed and there is no delay in resolving the matter or discharging the Soldier if that is the resolution.”

If investigations of homosexual claims were not done, heterosexual soldiers could use the law as a “get out of the military free” card—a consequence that Congress discouraged when it codified Defense Department regulations in place long before Clinton took office. Ideologues pushing for imposition of an extreme gay agenda on the military—and their allies in the media—nevertheless prefer to accuse the military of hypocrisy.

This is only one of several claims made by gay activists that have not held up under close scrutiny. A comprehensive article by Elaine Donnelly published in the Duke University Journal of Gender Law & Policy, titled “Constructing the Co-Ed Military,” refutes a long list of claims made in the ongoing public relations campaign for gays in the military.

Field commanders who faithfully enforce the law deserve support, from President George W. Bush on down. If there are others who shirk their duty and look the other way, Pentagon authorities should not hesitate to hold them accountable. The law was written to guard good order and discipline, and it deserves continuing support.

Posted on Feb 17, 2007 Print this Article