Hold the fort on 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell'


Military readiness is not the objective of having openly gay soldiers in the US armed services.

Thanks to recent statements by US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Mike Mullen, we must acclimate ourselves to what now seems the inevitable rescission of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy toward homosexuals in the US military. This policy itself was a compromise reached under President Bill Clinton, who had wished to eliminate any obstacles to homosexuals in the armed services at the beginning of his presidency. At that time, a decades-old rule stated that homosexuality was "incompatible with military service." The "don't ask, don't tell" deal prohibited asking a person if he is a homosexual, but allowed for the removal of openly declared homosexuals.

In the intervening years, the willingness to consider the moral argument against homosexual acts has eroded further. Toward the latter part of the Bush administration, the then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Marine General Peter Pace, still had the nerve to say, "I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts. I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is okay to be immoral in any way." He received zero support for his forthrightness.

Now, after President Barack Obama hosted a homosexual celebration in the White House on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots, Admiral Mullen has appeared before Congress in favor of removing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

The excuses to abrogate this policy are almost amusing in their claims that the rule is unconstitutional and in the way in which opposition to the rule is steeped in moral unction. Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy, an Iraq war veteran, gets the prize for constitutional exegesis: "I was disheartened that the Constitution that I took an oath to support and defend was really being abused by that policy." In my years of studying the American founding, I do not recall a right to sodomy or any implication that it was an obligation to fight for another person's right to engage in this obscene act. In fact, until fairly recently, most states had laws against sodomy as a form of moral corruption.

The moral unction award goes to Admiral Mullen, who apparently has not the slightest idea as to why such laws once existed or why his immediate predecessor General Pace would have said what he did. Mullen deserves the award for telling Congress that "allowing homosexuals to serve openly would be the right thing to do," and that "I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens." Now let's see: if you are not asked, and do not tell, how are you forced to lie?

Regardless, the sentiment expressed by Admiral Mullen is in sync with the homosexual martyrology that developed with the spread of AIDS. They are not only dying for a cause, but are willing to lie for one as well. This is all the more noble because it is in defense of the realm.

It might be wise to pause for a moment and think about what others may be forced to do should the policy of "don't ask, don't tell" be abandoned. I may be able to bring a certain perspective to the issue since I have both served in the military and worked extensively in the world of the arts, which homosexual culture often dominates.

I keenly recall my induction at Army basic training. It was conducted at a former WW II POW camp for Germans. At Indian Town Gap Military Reservation, we first had our heads shaved and then were told to strip naked as we, for several hours, went from station to station being prodded and poked to ascertain our fitness for the coming physical ardors. In the barracks, there were no stalls between the toilets or showers, in case any of us thought there might be some small refuge of privacy left. This was deliberately done to break us down, so we could then be reshaped into fighting men.

The question may be asked: "If homosexuals are currently serving in the military under the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, why hasn't the mayhem described above already happened?" The answer is precisely because the current policy requires homosexuals to be covert in their behavior and not to display their predilections openly.

Now imagine inserting into this scenario some naked females. What would happen? All hell would break loose. And whose fault would it be? It would be completely unfair to both the men and the women to inject sexual tension into an already highly demanding, emotionally charged situation. Those who contrived such a state of affairs would be largely responsible for the consequences.

Since homosexuals define themselves as being sexually attracted to other men, why would anyone imagine that it is any less combustible to place openly-declared, practicing homosexuals in the same setting? It is curious that the military is the only form of association in which it is suggested that people would have to disrobe in front of others who find them sexually attractive, but with whom they do not desire any sexual intimacy. Is there a work place in which women are required to do this in front of men, or men in front of women? For obvious reasons, there is not. Why, then, make the US military such a place? The answer is, under the faux guise of civil rights, to enforce the rationalization for homosexual misbehavior on the country as a whole. What better way to achieve this than institutionalizing this rationalization in the armed forces?

The question may be asked: "If homosexuals are currently serving in the military under the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, why hasn't the mayhem described above already happened?" The answer is precisely because the current policy requires homosexuals to be covert in their behavior and not to display their predilections openly. Overturning this policy would mean "coming out of the closet" inside the military with the consequences described. Adding to the tensions would be the fact that any heterosexual service member who objected or acted in a way that could be interpreted as "homophobic" would be the one brought up on charges or dismissed. They would be forced not to object to homosexual behavior.

Unlike many who advocate this change in policy, I have actually worked in an openly homosexual environment and know its consequences. As a professional actor, I appeared in productions in which the majority of the cast members were homosexual, as were the directors. When the "gay" subculture takes over, those who do not participate in it are discriminated against. I am not shocked by this. It is human nature to prefer one's own. I left after a season in one regional theater, being told by the public relations director: "you're a good actor; it's too bad you're not homosexual." More disturbing were the occasions on which I had to resort to or threaten physical force to halt unwelcome advances. Does anyone seriously think that things like this would not happen in an openly "gay" military?

The lesson from this experience is that the endorsement of being openly homosexual in the military will lead to the formation of an approved subculture within the armed forces that will seek its own ends and the advancement of its own (based at least partly on sexual favors)—to the detriment of those who are not part of it. (This is why, in our saner moments, homosexuality has been considered to be "incompatible with military service.") Once again, this is not shocking. It has to be expected as part of human behavior. What is shocking is that President Obama, Secretary Gates, and Admiral Mullen are willing to let this happen to a military that is already under maximum duress from two wars. It is precisely this point that led General George Casey, chief of staff to the Army, to say that any such change should be held off until the troops are back from Iraq—as if there would ever be a good time to do this. In the fine tradition of General Pace, the current Marine Corps Commandant, General James Conway, believes repeal would harm military readiness.

But military readiness is not the objective of those seeking to overturn the policy. Moral vindication of homosexual behavior is the goal—no matter what the price. Congress, of course, can still stop this from happening as it requires a change in legislation—which has already been prepared by Congressman Murphy, who purportedly has 187 votes lined up for it (only 31 shy of the 218 needed for passage). At least people in the United States will have the opportunity to register their views with their representatives on whether to hold the fort for US service members, or to open the gates for using them as pawns in the homosexual revolution.



Robert R. Reilly. "Hold the fort on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'." MercatorNet (February 12, 2010).

This article by Robert R. Reilly was originally published on MercatorNet.com under a Creative Commons Licence.

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Robert R. Reilly has taught at the National Defense University, and served in the Office of The Secretary of Defense, where he was Senior Advisor for Information Strategy (2002-2006). He participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, as Senior Advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of information. Before that, he was director of the Voice of America, where he had worked the prior decade. Mr. Reilly has served in the White House as a Special Assistant to the President (1983-1985), and in the U.S. Information Agency both in DC and abroad. In the private sector, he spent more than seven years with the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, as both national director and then president. He was on active duty as an armored cavalry officer for two years, and attended Georgetown University and the Claremont Graduate University. He has published widely on foreign policy, "war of ideas" issues, and classical music. His latest book, The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis, has just been published by ISI Press.

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