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Gays on Parade?

In his article “Homosexuality in Uniform: Is It Time?” (February), Eugene T. Gomulka would have been better off arguing his point from a pure theological/moral basis instead of relying on the same old myths concerning gay men and women that society is slowly rejecting as superstition and hateful rhetoric. Gomulka’s blatant misuse of “statistics” shows his ineptness at spinning the results of psychological and sociological studies to buttress his position. While it is old hat for activists on any side of an issue to present numbers that support their cause, I would think that people who believe in the moral superiority of their ethic would not need to resort to misinformation to present their side of an issue.

As an example of such misinformation, when referring to Alfred Kinsey’s 1948 study, Gomulka quotes Kinsey’s conclusion that “10 percent of the males are more or less exclusively homosexual for at least three years between the ages 16 and 55.” Gomulka continues with the following statement: “On the same page, however, Kinsey states that ‘4 percent of the white males are exclusively homosexual throughout their lives after adolescence.’ For political reasons gay activists prefer to quote the 10 percent over the 4 percent statistic.” In fact, Kinsey never addressed the issue of homosexuality as an either/or proposition. Rather, Kinsey placed sexuality on a continuum of 0 to 6, with 0 being exclusively heterosexual and 6 being exclusively homosexual. The 10 percent figure Gomulka first quotes was for men deemed a 5 on the continuum; the 4 percent figure was for men deemed a 6 on the continuum. The figures are not mutually exclusive as Gomulka would lead you to believe. In actuality the percentage of men in Kinsey’s study whom society would consider to be homosexual (i.e., those men deemed a 5 or 6 on the continuum) is 14 percent. The gay community prefers the lower, 10 percent figure to account for error in Kinsey’s study.

In the end Gomulka and similar-minded people will fail in their efforts . . . [and] truth and reason will ultimately prevail. There is substantial, sound evidence that counters Gomulka’s contorted statistics and a host of witnesses”homosexual, heterosexual, military, nonmilitary, religious, and unreligious”who will refute his assumptions on the nature of gay men and women. (Stay tuned to the Congressional hearings on the matter.) In the future, hopefully soon, Gomulka’s bigoted assumptions will be thrown in the dustbin of history along with other former fundamentalist assumptions such as the curse of Ham on the Africans or that Jews eat their children.

Glen M. W. Trowbridge
Los Angeles, CA

. . . One of Chaplain Gomulka’s primary fears, oft-repeated by opponents of homosexuals in the military, is the possibility of the spread of AIDS. He notes that “two-thirds of all AIDS cases are directly attributable to homosexual conduct.” What he fails to observe is that in the United States military today the vast majority of AIDS cases are not due to homosexual conduct (or even drug use), but rather to heterosexual intercourse with prostitutes. Only when the military succeeds in keeping young soldiers and sailors away from brothels will it be relatively free of the fear of AIDS (and other sexually transmitted diseases). But, as Chaplain Gomulka observes, it is not so easy to separate tendencies from behavior, especially after months at sea (and in an environment where pornography, going to strip-joints, and engaging the favors of prostitutes is part of the dominant subculture of warrior machismo).

Approaching the subject from another angle, Chaplain Gomulka quotes the ruling in Steffan v. Cheney : “The quite rational assumption in the Navy is that with no one present who has a homosexual orientation, men and women alike can undress, sleep, bathe, and use the bathroom without fear or embarrassment that they are being viewed as sexual objects.” Well, perhaps the Navy has discovered an infallible system for segregating men and women from each other in combat environments. I know from experience that the Army has not. In the field, male and female soldiers are likely at some time or another to be undressing and sleeping in close proximity to one another. And as women are allowed into more Military Occupational Specialties, this will only increase . . . .

This illustrates the fact that the issue of gays in the military cannot be separated from the larger issue of sexuality in the military. Some, like Rep. Pat Schroeder, argue that the solution to the problem of the sexual harassment of women is to open combat roles to them. Having engaged in joint training exercises with the Canadian Forces, which accept women in combat roles, I can assure you that that is just a fantasy. The Canadian military is just as troubled by issues of sexual harassment as is the American military”in fact, my experience has been that sexual harassment is more prevalent and more overt in the Canadian military. In a similar fashion, opening the military to gays will solve nothing. A recent article in the Army Times (which has editorialized in favor of gays) reviewed the experience of gays in the militaries of those countries (such as Israel) where they are legally accepted. All the gays interviewed felt that the legal acceptance amounted to very little”hostility and discrimination remained, causing them to prefer to remain in the closet.

Should gays be allowed to stay in the military? I’m not sure. What I am certain of is that this is simply one head on the hydra of military sexuality . . . .

William J. Cork, Captain
Vermont Army National Guard
Northfield, VT

Eugene T. Gomulka replies:

The hope expressed by Mr. Trowbridge that ‘‘truth and reason will ultimately prevail” in regard to the issue of homosexuality and military service is one that I strongly endorse.

As regards the Kinsey study, I mentioned it mainly because so many people have been misled by its conclusions, which were based on a male interviewee sample containing approximately 25 percent prisoners or ex-prisoners, an abnormal percentage of sex offenders, and other sexually unconventional groups in numbers unrepresentative of society. While Mr. Trowbridge’s acceptance of Kinsey’s continuum theory leads him to conclude that homosexuals constitute between 10 percent and 14 percent of the population, recent findings indicate that it is ideology rather than science which has perpetuated the one-in-ten myth (cf. ‘‘How Many Gays Are There?” Newsweek, February 15, 1993).

The results of a New York Times exit poll conducted during the Presidential election parallel the findings of a National Opinion Research Center (NORC) survey undertaken between 1989 and 1992 which showed that 2.8 percent of the men reported exclusively homosexual activity in the preceding year, while women registered 2.5 percent.

In response to accusations of ‘‘misinformation” by Mr. Trowbridge, I refer readers to: 1) ‘‘Really, Dr. Kinsey?” The Lancet [the British medical journal] Vol. 337, March 2, 1991; 2) J. Gordon Muir, ‘‘Let’s Get Serious About Scientific Misconduct,” The Scientist , January 20, 1992; and 3) Judith A. Reisman and Edward W. Eichel, Kinsey, Sex, and Fraud : The Indoctrination of a People, 1990. As reported in The Lancet , ‘‘Dr. Reisman and her colleagues demolish the foundations of the [Kinsey reports]”; they also serve to refute Mr. Trowbridge’s charges of ‘‘bigoted assumptions.”

Capt. W. J. Cork writes that ‘‘the vast majority of AIDS cases are not due to homosexual conduct (or even drug use), but rather to heterosexual intercourse with prostitutes.” I (together with my DOD medical sources) would be most interested in knowing the source of his information.

When I sought to discover what percentage of AIDS cases were the result of various behaviors, the only data I could uncover were provided by the Centers for Disease Control (which reported that two-thirds of all AIDS cases are the result of homosexual behavior). By noting this in my report, I did not wish to give the impression that I am unaware of or condone heterosexual misconduct in the military. I am opposed to all harmful behaviors (e.g., drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, homosexual conduct, etc.) that can injure the young men and women with whom I serve.

Just as I am reluctant to recommend that acknowledged homosexuals be allowed to serve in the stressful, confined, and almost exclusively male environment of life at sea for extended periods of time, so too would I discourage a commanding officer from pulling into a port in Thailand where an extremely high percentage of prostitutes are HIV positive.

While Captain Cork and others are ‘‘not sure” if ‘‘gays should be allowed . . . in the military,” I, as the ‘‘principal advisor to the command on moral matters,” felt obliged to express my reservations regarding the wisdom of a change in the current policy.

Of Historicists and Fideists

Jon D. Levenson’s analysis of historical criticism’s relativity (“The Bible: Unexamined Commitments of Criticism,” February) is admirable. He recognizes that historicism is “a secular equivalent to fundamentalism” and is unjustified in claiming a superior vantage point, hence its incongruity and potentially negative social impact in an era of pluralism. Seeking to build bridges of communication and dialogue, he articulates justifications for both fundamentalists and liberals in academe. Nonetheless, it is clear he will welcome scholars with religious motivations only under the frame of a multiculturalism whose truth foundation lies outside, and is thus transcendent or supercessionary to, the worldview claim of the believer. But how is such a stance itself to be justified? Is multicultural pluralism the new standard?

Levenson rightly faults the extreme reductionists who find the Bible to have originated only as a pretext for political or ideological control, or who exploit historicism to push traditionalists out of the public square. I wonder, however, if he has personally confronted the obvious Truth-claim of Scripture, leading to an understanding of how the Bible could have arisen simultaneously out of both politico-religious and theological reality. The Apostle Paul noted that nature revealed God’s eternal power and divine nature to all mankind, thus acknowledging the obvious, that the physical realm can be studied and contemplated by all. The spiritual is a different matter, depending as it does (for its most essential part) on immediate disclosure by the Divine. Contrary to a common perception among historicists, being a believer involves not a reduced perspicacity (notwithstanding some who fall into anti- intellectualism), but a God-created openness to the things of God through the Holy Spirit. The opportunity for such transcendence is available to all through Christ. Believers therefore welcome the dialogue Levenson promotes.

John C. Munday, Jr.
Regent University
Virginia Beach, VA

Jon D. Levenson replies:

Let me thank Dr. Munday and reassure him that I do not regard “multicultural pluralism” as the standard of truth. In fact, I argued quite the contrary: that multiculturalism renders the study of the Bible as an act of cultural affirmation alone immensely problematic and challenges historicists to validate the enterprise by reference to something more than historical description. Dr. Munday’s letter, however, prompts me to repeat my worry about the other extreme, “each group treating its own book and its own interpretive procedures as absolute,” as I put it, “a model of fideisms at best ignoring each other and at worst colliding.” When one identifies “believers” with believers in one’s own tradition (Christianity in the case of Dr. Munday), it is hard to see how the conversation that he welcomes can ever be genuinely worthy of the term “dialogue.” Fundamentalisms of all sorts can prevent the openness to transcendence that I regard as indispensable to truth.

Beyond Casuistry

Professor Burt Neuborne’s outrageous casuistry regarding the meaning of the “no establishment” clause of the First Amendment (“The Ruling ‘We’ of the American Jewish Congress,” Public Square, February) is nothing short of stunning. To contend, as he does, that its purpose is to inculcate fear and hostility toward religion is to turn its true meaning upside down and backwards . . . .

This strange inversion of the “no establishment” clause originated and gained support principally among those who feared that their religious beliefs, or lack thereof, were threatened by a “tyranny of the majority” of America’s religious believers”Protestant Christians. Thus, at the first level of analysis, the American Jewish Congress has, quite logically from their point of view, been simply weakening the influence of all religion in public life in order to protect”in their opinion”their own, which they felt they would be forced to practice, in any event, in private. That their action ultimately damages the power of all religion, including Judaism”and not only in public life, but private life as well”should surprise no one, and is undoubtedly one basis for the change in stance on this matter by a growing number of rabbis. In fact, they may well have found that Christians who have lost their religion in the secular clutter of modern society are far more dangerous to all people, including Jews, than the most rabid Christian believer.

At the second level of analysis, however, we find ample excuse (though not, I believe, justification) for their fear in the anti-Semitism prevalent in this country over much of its history. Without the perceived threat (which, though most Jews seem disinclined to believe it, was actually ethnic more than religious”a subtle but important difference not fully recognized in most discussions of the problem), Jews would not have felt compelled to mount an attack to subvert the meaning of the First Amendment. Thus, in this sense, we Christians have only ourselves to blame for our loss of religion in public life. However, I sincerely believe that anti-Semitism, especially as defined in its purely religious connotation, is of such greatly diminished significance in America today that it will best die of neglect rather than by assault. One small indication of its diminished significance is the widespread support for Israel within the Christian community.

At this juncture at the close of the twentieth century, I see Christians coming to the belief that in terms of our religious heritage we are all Jews, even if we don’t share the same belief regarding one particular Jew. It is time for the American Jewish Congress to recognize this new reality, and join in support of a return to the principle of freedom of expression of religious belief in any context without oppression from our government.

Robert J. Bushelle
Barrington Hills, IL

Satire Backwards

Your Public Square item (February) about the history of Harvard’s shield bearing the word “Veritas” reminds me of an observation I made recently while feeling very unhappy with the attitudes of some of Harvard’s faculty on a number of questions. The observation is that “Veritas” spells “Satire” backwards.

There is an extra “V” to be dealt with, but it can be turned to advantage by constructing the palindrome “Satire V. Veritas.” This is not a perfect palindrome, but perfect palindromes are rare, and even more rarely make any sense. “Satire V. Veritas” makes a great deal of sense, however, in describing the contention of sense and nonsense that sometimes characterizes the Harvard scene, and is a wholesome correction to the smugness of “Veritas.”

Lawrence Cranberg
A.M. Harvard ‘40 (Physics)
Austin, TX