The Department of Defense is preparing to officially release the results of its survey on the dont ask, dont tell policy regarding homosexuals serving openly in the military. That is, of course, after someone leaked the results early, probably to try to influence events. The wording of the leak was significant: It said 70 percent of survey-takers thought that the effect of lifting DADT would be positive, mixed, or nonexistent.
What percent of the 70 percent fell into each of the three categories is left to the imagination. For instance, what if 90 percent of those 70 percent thought the effect would be mixed, i.e., some good, some bad? Would that effect the ultimate decision? I ask, because I suspect that if a large percentage of those had said positive or even nonexistent, wed be hearing about it. In other words, I think its safe to guess that 30 percent of those surveyed are against lifting the ban, and a significant percentage of those remaining 70 percent have mixed feelings. In short, only a minority of those surveyed think the effects will be positive or nonexistent. But why be exact when we already have a compliant press summarizing the findings by eliding the distinctions and stating only that 70 percent thought the change would have little or no effect .
Note that only 44,000 members of the 1.5 million-strong U.S. military even responded to the survey, and even granting a full 70 percent seeing little or no problem, that still means only a bit more than 5 percent of everyone in uniform has expressed an positive opinion. Another statistic: overall, female service members, who make up only 20 percent of the entire U.S. military, were substantially less likely to perceive negative impacts following repeal than male service members for all the issues asked about in the survey, according to the report. So only a minority of a minority seems okay with the repeal of DADT.
It seems the fix is in.
Significantly, more than 40 percent of service members in the combat branches said it would be a net negative, and a full 58 percent of Marines were against a change in the policy. Their leaders feel the same. The recently retired Marine Commandant, Gen. James Conway, and the new Commandant, Gen. James Amos, are the only service chiefs to speak openly against lifting DADT. As a result, Gen. Amos was publicly scolded by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Mike Mullen. (Technically, Adm. Mullen is only a first among equals on the Joint Staff, so he had no business scolding Gen. Amos in the first place.)
As a former Marine grunt myself, I am also against repealing DADT. Heres why: the issue goes beyond merely discomfort at having to live in close quarters with someone who might find you sexually attractive, despite smarmy editorials that tell the Marines and other objectors to man up. The lamest argument of all, which Richard Cohen makes, is that service members are likely to have already served with a homosexual. To which I say, so what? Being forced to live in close quarters with someone who might find you sexually attractive is a problem only when you know that person might find you sexually attractive. If you have no reason to suspect this, then ignorance is bliss.
During my seven years in the Marines, I no doubt served with homosexuals. In fact, I know of three instances where Im sure this was the case; in two of those, the Marines in question hit on me big time, but I was too naive or oblivious to realize it at the time. Its only in retrospect that their sexual advances become obvious. In another case, the Marine, a superior, asked about my blue eyes during a formal inspection. Even I was able to sense where that question was coming from, but what was I supposed to do? He outranked me, and anyone whos stood a formal inspection knows that youre trapped; you cant move, you cant look down, you cant do anything but look ahead and answer the question. I get them from my mom, was all I was able to stammer. He stared into my eyes for an uncomfortable period of timeI was working really hard on my thousand-yard starebefore moving on. Even in less formal encounters, my interactions with him became very uncomfortable. Fortunately, this all happened during a six-week school, and I soon graduated away from the problem.
But in most circumstances a service member cannot simply move on. Youre assigned to a unit for anywhere from two to three years. And this introduces a potential problem that looms larger than close-quarters discomfort: the perception that a superior might be showing favoritism toward another will wreck unit cohesion faster than anything else. In the case of open homosexuals serving in the same unit, the chances of that reality or perception are increased. Yes, this possibility already exists between females and males, but its likelihood is less so because of a lower ratio of females supervising males. That wouldnt be the case with open homosexuals.
The military already forbids fraternization between officers and enlisted, precisely to prevent favoritism, real or perceived. Any perception of favoritism in such circumstances would be fatal, especially in frontline units. And dont even get started on potential homosexual love triangles within a unit.
And lets be clear about something: homosexuals are not banned from serving in the military. The only thing forbidden is for commanders to ask and for service members to announce. Advocates of repealing DADT say that homosexuals have a right to live honest, open lives, as if that is a constitutional right. But there is no constitutional right to serve in the militaryperiod. People are rejected for all sorts of reasons, from intelligence to physical fitness to a criminal background. And even while wearing the uniform you give up certain constitutional rights, particularly the right to openly criticize the president or anyone else in your chain of command. Moreover, commissioned officers can face a court martial under Article 133 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman, for behavior that as a civilian might merit a misdemeanor charge. (Examples: drunk in public, any act involving moral turpitude, or using insulting or defamatory language to another officer in that officers presence or about that officer to other military persons.) So much for living honest, open lives in the military.
Once open homosexuality is accepted as just another identity for service members, the public acclimation is not far behind. The military is already politically correct to a degree that might surprise many Americans. (The Marine Corps is the least politically correct of them all.) Indeed, Gen. George Casey, the Armys Chief of Staff, worried more about the potential hit to diversity in the Fort Hood shooting than the fact that a jihadi in an American uniform had just shot up a U.S. military base . Military bases already celebrate every possible heritage week or month; will Gay Pride celebrations be far behind?
In the end, the repeal of DADT is about one thing only: official sanction of homosexuality. As always, the aim is not just to leave homosexuals alone or to treat them equally, but to get the culture to affirm and acclaim them. And that is why the repeal of DADT must be resisted.