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As expected, Congress voted to repeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy concerning homosexuals serving openly in the military and President Obama signed the repeal into law. Despite a lot of misgivings and reasons for leaving the policy in place, some of which I made here here , Congress has commanded the entire Department of Defense to implement a new personnel policy—even as our military fights two wars.

This change will not be without repercussions. I have no special crystal ball, but having spent as much time as I have in and around the military, I’m fairly certain in my predictions. Most will take time to become apparent. The “slippery” in slippery slope need not imply suddenness, but as with most such slopes, you find yourself at the bottom without having been aware of the slow, downward movement, wondering how you got there.

First, what will not happen. There will be no mass exodus of people from the military in protest, despite what some commentators have claimed. These pundits, many of whom have not served in uniform, underestimate the professionalism of our military men and women, who will follow the orders they’re given, even if they personally think they’re wrong. Even a strong critic of the change, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos, said that if the Congress and commander in chief so order, he and his Marines will salute and implement the order to the best of their ability.

What will happen will show up first in the chaplain corps. There has always been some tension for military chaplains in fulfilling their two functions: counselors as well as spiritual leaders of their various faiths—Roman Catholic, the various Protestant denominations, Mormon, Jewish, Muslim, and now even Wiccan. In some situations, such as on a small Navy ship or a remote base, a person may have to see a chaplain from a different religious background. In such situations, the chaplain must try to remain as general as possible in his spiritual discussions while still offering good counsel to the service member, as chaplains are not allowed to try to convert a military member to their particular religion tradition.

But until now, they have been free to offer their best advice and counsel according to the dictates of their faith. Some religiously conservative chaplains—mostly Christian but also some Jewish and Muslim—have expressed fear that with the repeal of DADT, they will not be allowed to advise the service member in accordance with their religious teachings. Military higher-ups have promised that will not be the case, but I don’t see how it can be otherwise. Now that homosexuality has been accepted as an “identity” rather than a predilection, it will be beyond criticism. It will be just another “normal,” and a chaplain trying to counsel a person on the spiritual and psychological consequences of homosexual behavior will quickly find himself accused of bigotry.

All uniformed military and Department of Defense civilians undergo yearly refresher training on sexual-harassment regulations and equal-opportunity rights within the military. A chaplain or anyone else speaking spiritual truth about homosexual behavior will quickly run afoul of these regs, no matter how many promises made by higher-ups. Nervous superiors, afraid of a sexual-harassment claim, will silence a chaplain before standing up for his right to counsel as he sees fit.

We see already in the civilian arena that would-be counselors are being silenced and de-credentialed for sticking by their Christian belief that homosexuality is inherently wrong. It is part of an increasing trend of censorship by self-appointed credentialers and professional-ethics cops who receive great deference from the courts.

Along with the muffling of chaplains, others who oppose open homosexuality will be the next to be silenced. There is already an aggressive campaign to prevent conservative Christians, mostly evangelicals, from being able to openly practice their faith while in the military. Led by Air Force Academy graduate and lawyer Mikey Weinstein, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation acts as a self-appointed watchdog over any overt expression of religious belief in the military. Weinstein purports to be an equal-opportunity overseer, but in reality he is unrelenting and vicious in his pursuit only of conservative Christians.

For example, in a recent issue of Stars & Stripes, the military’s newspaper, an Air Force lieutenant colonel protested the imminent repeal of DADT by comparing the open acceptance of homosexuality to the increasing tendency to tell Christians to keep their faith to themselves. Lt. Col. Stacy Maxey asked, “The Defense Department is proposing to let people who choose to live a homosexual lifestyle serve ‘openly’ in the armed forces, but won’t allow Christians such as myself the freedom to ‘openly’ share the good news of Christ with our co-workers—as the faith we’ve chosen requires?”

Weinstein’s response to that letter is telling: “Lt. Col. Stacy L. Maxey is the quintessentially perfect example of a poisonous Poster Child of the vast legion of fundamentalist Christian proselytizing-oppressors operating with unfettered access in today’s U.S. armed forces. He and his illegitimate ilk of pernicious spiritual predators must be stopped now and very publicly!”

The pressure for service members to not only accept but affirm homosexuality also comes from the highest levels. Anyone else resisting on moral or religious grounds is already being compared to racists and other bigots. Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, the Army’s deputy chief of staff in charge of personnel matters, spoke about repeal of DADT before several hundred troops at the European Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany:

Unfortunately, we have a minority of service members who are still racists and bigoted and you will never be able to get rid of all of them. But these people opposing this new policy will need to get with the program, and if they can’t, they need to get out. No matter how much training and education of those in opposition, you’re always going to have those that oppose this on moral and religious grounds just like you still have racists today.

Note that this is not just any old lieutenant general; Bostick is the head of the Army’s Personnel Command and part of the Pentagon panel charged with implementing the new policy.

The repeal of DADT is already being used as a narrow edge of a wedge to try to change other policies , particularly with regard to same-sex marriage. Sen. Barbara Boxer of California said during the debate on DADT , “There is more work we have to do on this whole issue. There is still a lot of unfairness in our laws—partners not being able to have the same rights as married couples. That is another whole issue we will work on.”

Finally, the acceptance of open homosexuality within the military will go a long way toward mainstreaming it as just another flavor in the rich diversity of our country, something with no more moral consequences than being, say, African-American, Hispanic, Native-American, or Asian Pacific Islander, all of which have their own special heritage months set aside by the Department of Defense. I’m just waiting for the announcement, insisted on by gay-rights activists, that the military set aside its own gay-pride month to be celebrated on military bases around the world, just as the other heritage months already are.

In the meantime, the military will lose something hard to classify in its presence but notable in its absence: a core of dedicated, moral soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who seek to serve because they see the military as something set aside from the culture at large, an institution dedicated to upholding the highest virtues of honor, courage, and morality. Rather than the military’s being the “sentinel at the bacchanal,” as writer Tom Wolfe called it some years ago, it will have joined the debauchery, celebrating it at the same time it banishes those who chose not to.

As Tommy Sears of the Center for Military Readiness recently noted, “The military will attempt to do what it does—make things work, for better or worse. So there will be no toleration of dissent. If for whatever reason you disagree, whether it’s religious conviction or personal objection, your career will in essence be over.”

Or never started in the first place. We’ll all be the poorer for it.

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