Forum

Homosexuals deserve to serve in military

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In an era when a draft is once again being considered, if only briefly and unofficially, it is patently absurd for the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Armed Forces to prevent any brave and willing man or woman from serving because of sexual orientation. President Bill Clinton enacted the policy known as ?Don?t Ask; Don?t Tell? as one of his earliest acts in 1993. It provides that, given that homosexual acts are punishable by dishonorable discharge, servicemen and women who don?t volunteer their homosexuality will not be subject to investigation by the military.
Clinton and then-General Colin Powell framed the policy to give some semblance of equity in the nation?s military by allowing service to homosexuals contingent on their keeping quiet about it. But those already openly gay were still excluded; besides the waste of manpower inherent in blocking these potential soldiers, the policy requires resources in enforcing the provision in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), the document outlining all judicial actions of the U.S. Army.
The prime arguments against homosexual participation in the military are that they prevent unit cohesion and that they pose a security risk should an enemy blackmail them into treasonous acts by threatening to reveal their sexual orientation. The former is a matter of perception and is countered by an examination of similar feelings in the 1940s at the eve of desegregation of races in the United States military. The latter is actually worsened by making homosexuals afraid of having their sexual orientation revealed, resulting in the dishonorable discharge.
The Log Cabin Republicans are a caucus of the Republican party devoted to a resolution between today?s Republican party stance on gay and lesbian issues and what they believe constitutes equality for those citizens. On Tuesday, they filed a suit against the U.S. government in a Los Angeles federal court, Log Cabin Republicans v. United States, wherein they challenge the constitutionality of this provision of the UCMJ and the 11-year-old ?Don?t Ask; Don?t Tell? policy.
They argue that with national and international security in the balance, and following the examples of many countries throughout the world, overturning these discriminatory rules would restore the First-, Fifth-, and Fourteenth-Amendment rights to thousands of now-closeted gay and lesbian soldiers and sailors, while increasing the pool of eligible personnel with limited and only temporary effects that opponents claim. This is simply the next in a series of cases involved with gay rights, including a 1996 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that homosexuals cannot be discriminated against on the grounds of morality, and a 2003 case wherein the high court ruled that sexual orientation and consensual sexual acts are protected by the fundamental right to privacy. The complainants feel that these can be extrapolated to cover admission of openly homosexual men and women in the military and allow homosexual acts, currently banned, provided, naturally, that they do not directly conflict with the prime purpose of the military.
Naturally, there are political ramifications for the suit. President George W. Bush has vowed to keep the policy in place if he is re-elected, while Presidential-hopeful, Senator John Kerry, claims he would eliminate these restrictions from serving in the military. Log Cabin, which is first and foremost a Republican body, has already withheld its endorsement from President Bush because of his disregard for gay rights in spite of the more than one million votes he received from Log Cabin Republicans in 2000. Additionally, this could be another issue to add to the candidates? survey for new Supreme Court justices.
Though Log Cabin?s suit names the Department of Defense (DoD) and specifically Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as defendants, the DoD claims that they keep the policy in place because it is directed by law, not necessarily by choice. Either a repeal of the provision or a federal court review could overturn the policy.
Log Cabin has taken the right step toward protecting both the rights of its constituents and their homeland. The public at large has little to no problem with homosexuals serving in the military. According to most polls, approximately two-thirds of Americans find no problem with soldiers or sailors being gay; a simple majority believes that they can effectively serve if openly homosexual. Nearly all opposition comes from within the government and specifically from current military leaders. Tolerance in what is primarily a body of war is not an oxymoron: It can be achieved with simple steps such as the admission of these volunteer men and women ? currently ignored by the system ? and the greater acceptance of current homosexual servicemen.